China: Eurasian wigeons confirmed positive for H5N1 virus in Hong Kong S.A.R

Subsequent to announcing on December 22, 2023, that a Eurasian wigeon carcass found in the Hong Kong Wetland Park in Tin Shui Wai and a Eurasian wigeon receiving treatment at the Kadoorie Farm and Botanic Garden (KFBG) preliminarily tested positive for the H5 avian influenza (AI) virus, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) of Hong Kong S.A.R confirmed the birds to be positive for the H5N1 AI virus after further laboratory testing, a spokesman for the AFCD said on January 5.

The Eurasian wigeon which received treatment at the KFBG was collected earlier from the Wetland Park and humanely dispatched later. The Eurasian wigeon is a winter visitor mainly found in the Deep Bay area.

The spokesman noted that cleaning and disinfection has been stepped up at the location where the dead bird was found in the Wetland Park. Notices have also been put up to remind visitors to pay attention to personal hygiene. The Wetland Park will keep a close watch on the situation of birds inside the Park. The KFBG has also stepped up cleaning and disinfection. For the sake of prudence, all birds at a higher infection risk are under quarantine and subject to further testings. The AFCD will continue to closely monitor the situation.

One chicken farm is respectively situated within 3 kilometres of where the bird carcass was found in the Wetland Park and where the bird was kept at the KFBG. The AFCD has informed the chicken farms concerned and no abnormal mortality or symptoms of avian influenza among the chicken flocks have been found so far. The AFCD will remind poultry farmers to strengthen precautionary and biosecurity measures against AI. Pet bird shop owners and licence holders of bird exhibitions will also be reminded to implement proper precautions against AI.

The spokesman said that the department will closely monitor poultry farms and the wholesale market to ensure that proper precautions against AI have been taken. The department will continue its wild bird monitoring and surveillance.

"People should avoid personal contact with wild birds and live poultry and their droppings. They should clean their hands thoroughly after coming into contact with them. The public can call 1823 for AFCD´s follow-up if they come across birds suspected to be sick or dead, including the carcasses of wild birds and poultry," the spokesman said.

The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will continue to be vigilant over live poultry stalls. It will also remind stall operators to maintain good hygiene.

The Department of Health will keep up its health education to remind the public to maintain strict personal and environmental hygiene to prevent AI.

The AFCD, the FEHD, the Customs and Excise Department and the Police will strive to deter the illegal importation of poultry and birds into Hong Kong to minimise the risk of AI outbreaks caused by imported poultry and birds that have not gone through inspection and quarantine.