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Subject: Nam Sang Wai & Bird Flu [Print This Page]

Author: tbob    Time: 3/04/2013 20:07     Subject: Nam Sang Wai & Bird Flu

Over the past years we have seen both Mai Po Reserve and Wetland Park closed after a dead bird has been found to be carrying H5N1.

If the re-development of Nam Sang Wai goes ahead and some of the areas enhanced to carry more birds what will happen to the residents of this area if a dead bird is found to carry H5N1
Author: ajohn    Time: 4/04/2013 00:04

Presumably exactly the same as currently happens at the housing estates adjacent to Mai Po (Fairview Park and Palm Springs) or at Tin Shi Wai, adjacent to the Wetland Park. In other words, nothing.

No human cases of H5N1 have ever been demonstrated to be linked to wild birds - the greater risk is from infected poultry. Not only is H5N1 rare among wild birds, but also wild birds are generally wary of people, which makes it difficult for them to pass on any viruses. The Hong Kong government has now accepted that wild birds are not a significant risk, and restrictions on Mai Po and other sites in case of a dead bird being found have been eased (reserve closures should now be less frequent than in the past). Raising questions such as this may just serve to perpetuate the myth held by some that wild birds pose a significant threat of passing H5N1 to the human population. This could lead to panic among the HK public every time a dead wild bird is found, as was the case a few years ago, while at the same time ignoring the fact that poor environmental hygiene at poultry farms could lead to a risk of an outbreak (HK farms, though, do have measures in place to minimise any risk in poultry).

Of course it is still sensible to take precautions about the risk of H5N1. Anyone finding a dead bird should avoid contact, and everyone should wash hands after touching bird droppings. Mai Po also remains vigilant to the possibility of an outbreak of H5N1. Publicly accessible areas and facilities are disinfected on a regular basis. All dead birds found on the reserve are collected by AFCD to be tested for H5N1 (all so far have tested negative). Faecal samples are also regularly collected by Hong Kong University throughout the winter for research into avian viruses, and so far all samples collected have tested negative for H5N1.

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