Hong Kong Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food York Chow Thursday warned against outbreak of avian influenza and called for concerted effort to guard against avian flu in Hong Kong..
He made the warning at a meeting here after detection of H5N1 virus in local wild birds and the latest avian influenza outbreaks in the region.
At the meeting, representatives from relevant departments including the Department of Health (DH) and Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) provided their latest report on Hong Kong's preparedness against the infectious disease as well as risk assessment of a possible outbreak in Hong Kong.
Chow noted that recent reports of avian flu cases in other overseas places as well as the detection of H5N1 virus in local wild birds had indicated that the disease remained a threat to our community.
Experts exchanged their views on the present surveillance program on wild birds and agreed that the program had been working well.
The AFCD had tested about 13,500 dead birds in the past three years and found the presence of H5N1 in 33 of them.
Chow noted that the risk of poultry outbreaks and human infections of H5N1 in Hong Kong has not been changed, adding that the risk would most likely continue to exist in the region, with more cases detected during winter period.
"We should stay vigilant against avian influenza and update our preparedness plan regularly to fine-tune on areas that we consider appropriate," he said.
Hong Kong has maintained a zero case record on H5N1 avian influenza human infection as well as poultry infection in local farms since early 2003 although the virus was continued to be found on a small number of dead migratory and wild birds.
Since 2003, the WHO has confirmed a total of 270 human cases of H5N1 infection from 10 countries, with 164 (60.7 percent) of them being fatal cases.
Chow called for concerted effort from the community to guard against avian flu in Hong Kong.
"Members of the public should strictly observe personal and environmental hygiene, and stay away from dead birds, avoid contact with wild birds and live poultry and their droppings.
"They are also urged not to feed or release wild birds, and surrender their pet birds to AFCD's animal management centers for disposal if they no longer want to keep pet birds. Besides, they should refrain from keeping backyard poultry," he said.