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H5N1 Confirmed in Buzzard in Hong Kong

Recombinomics Commentary
December 22, 2007

A common buzzard found dead in Hong Kong has tested positive for the deadly bird flu virus, officials said Friday.
Laboratory tests confirmed the bird, found on rural Lantau Island on Monday, was infected with the H5N1 strain, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said.

The above confirmation of H5N1 in a wild bird in Hong Kong is not a surprise.  Last month H5N1 was confirmed in an egret in Hong Kong, and H5N1 appears in wild birds in Hong Kong each year at this time.  This year the appearance is slightly earlier.

In the past, when dead birds appear in January, alternative explanations are offered.  Last year there was speculation that dead birds were due to infection by birds released during religious ceremonies as noted in the ProMed commentary in January of this year.

However, the earlier appearance this year eliminates such speculation and the obvious becomes more obvious.

Wild birds are the natural reservoir for avian influenza, and H5N1 has become endemic in the wild bird populations, which transport and transmit the virus.

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