A dead magpie has tested positive for the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus in Hong Kong, agricultural officials said Friday. Authorities said laboratory tests had confirmed that the bird, found dead last week in the rural New Territories area, was infected with the killer strain.
They warned of personal contact with wild birds and live poultry. It was the 17th wild bird that has been found dead in Hong Kong this year with H5N1, which has killed almost 200 people and ravaged poultry flocks worldwide since 2003.
Migratory birds have been blamed for the global spread of the disease. Biologists believe local species of wild birds found dead with the virus could have picked it up from contact with infected flocks in mainland China, where it is believed the strain first mutated into a form deadly to humans.
Hong Kong was the scene of the world's first reported major bird flu outbreak among humans in 1997, when six people died.
World Health Organisation experts say a bird flu pandemic among humans would kill millions worldwide.