Avian flu found in dead Hong Kong heron

Nov. 3, 2004 at 11:37 AM
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HONG KONG, Nov. 3 (UPI) -- Chinese officials confirmed Wednesday a dead heron found at the Hong Kong border had the deadly H5N1 avian flu, the Kyodo agency reported.

The gray heron was found by a railway worker and handed over to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department testing.

"The fact that a bird is found with the virus means there could be bird flu within the area within a 12-mile radius," said Guan Ye, a microbiology professor at Hong Kong University.

It had not been confirmed if the flu was the cause of the heron's death, and no sign of the virus was found at nearby chicken farms.

Also a mystery was where the bird came from, as herons are migratory.

Seven people who came into close contact with the bird were also tested and showed no signs of the virus.

It is the second time a bird tested positive for bird flu in Hong Kong this year. The first was a peregrine falcon found dead in a rural area in January.

Since the beginning of the year, bird flu has killed 32 people in Thailand and Vietnam, as well as millions of chickens and other birds.

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