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February 06, 2006

H5N1 likely endemic in HK region, health chief says

York Chow, the head of health services in Hong Kong, is putting pressure on the Chinese government: H5N1 likely endemic in HK region, health chief says.

The deadly H5N1 bird flu virus is probably endemic in the region around Hong Kong, the territory's health chief said on Friday, after tests this week on a dead chicken were positive for the disease.

The bird had been brought into Hong Kong from mainland China and, while it proved impossible to determine where it contracted the virus, the case raised the spectre of an outbreak over the border in Guangdong, China's wealthiest province.

Officials there have not reported any cases of bird flu.

"With the evidence that we have, it's most likely that the avian flu, that is the H5N1 virus, is already endemic in this region," Hong Kong's Secretary of Health York Chow said.

Three other birds, a crested myna and two oriental magpie robins, have also died in recent weeks in Hong Kong. All three tested positive for H5N1.

Chow's remarks also raise questions about the transparency of disease reporting in China and the adequacy of its prevention and detection measures.

Posted by dymaxion at February 6, 2006 10:22 PM

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