Animals Environment & Health Hong Kong

Hong Kong’s bird market to close for 21 days after avian flu virus found in sample

The Yuen Po Street Bird Garden has been closed for disinfection after the H5 avian flu virus was found in a fecal sample from one of its pet bird shops.

The garden, also known as bird street, was closed on Friday, with workers in protective garb spraying disinfectant to clean the area. It will be closed for 21 days as a precautionary measure.

The swab sample was taken from a hill myna in one of the shop’s bird cages. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department closed the store and “removed all the birds to the Department’s animal management centre in Sheung Shui for disposal,” according to the government’s press release.

bird market

Photo: Apple Daily.

According to HK01, the department disposed of 2,834 birds at the store.

The department required all shops in the garden to clean their stalls thoroughly. It said cleansing of the bird garden and its vicinity will be stepped up.

“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 follow-up if they come across suspicious sick or dead birds, including the carcasses of wild birds and poultry,” a spokesman for the AFCD said.

bird market

Photo: Apple Daily.

The department advised members of the public who may have visited the shops or had close contact with birds in the area to seek medical advice as soon as possible if they develop respiratory symptoms.

The swab was collected as part of the AFCD’s routine bird flu surveillance programme.

The market is a popular destination for bird enthusiasts, residents and tourists. The AFCD found avian flu while testing fecal matter at the site in 2007 and 2012.

bird market

Mr. Wong. Photo: Apple Daily.

One stall owner, a Mr. Wong, told Apple Daily that he estimated that the closure would affect his business income by 50 per cent.

“We can stick our hands out from the garden, and communicate by phone,” he said.

According to the newspaper, 69 vendors at the garden received HK$12,000 in compensation and free rent for a month after the garden was closed for 21 days in July 2012.

Hong Kong's bird market to close for 21 days after avian flu virus found in sample