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Dublin: 13 °C Wednesday 23 May, 2018
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Hong Kong reports first Bird Flu in eight years

Forget SARS, forget swine flu, forget foot-and-mouth disease… the original virus of doom is back.

A cage of birds displays at a market in Hong Kong. The company was forced to kill all poultry the last time there was a major avian influenza scare.
A cage of birds displays at a market in Hong Kong. The company was forced to kill all poultry the last time there was a major avian influenza scare.
Image: Kin Cheung/AP

HONG KONG has raised its health emergency level after confirming its first case of avian influenza, or ‘Bird Flu’, for eight years.

A 59-year-old woman was confirmed as having contracted the H5 influenza A virus, and is seriously ill in a Cantonese hospital where she remains in intensive care.

Hong Kong’s Health and Food Secretary said the risk of Bird Flu in the area is not much higher than he had previously been, but the presence of a confirmed case meant that both the authorities and the public had to remain vigilant.

It is reported that the victim had visited local markets in on the Chinese mainland in the last week of October – and it has already been established that the woman has not eaten any poultry dishes since, while she had not been in touch with live poultry since her visit.

The fact she had not been in close contact with any poultry for three weeks – or could not have eaten contaminated food – means it is virtually guaranteed that she had contracted the virus from another human.

CNN adds that the woman’s husband was also understood to have been ill, but he had recovered from his symptomps.

Airports in nearby countries have already reactivated thermal scanners used when the virus was last prevalent seven years ago. The last full outbreak in Hong Kong occurred in 1997 and claimed six lives after 18 people contracted the virus.

On that instance, people became infected after coming into contact with live infected poultry. The entirety of Hong Kong’s poultry population was destroyed as a result – a move many believe was the only way to avoid an epidemic.

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Gavan Reilly

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