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21 Jun 2013

Hong Kong, CFS closely monitors development of avian flu infection in Taiwan (June 21 2013)

[Source: Centre for Food Safety, Hong Kong PRC SAR, full text: (LINK).]

CFS closely monitors development of avian flu infection in Taiwan

Regarding a human case of avian influenza A(H6N1), the CFS has contacted the Taiwan authority over the matter and will maintain close contact with local poultry egg importers, distributors and supermarket retailers. Appropriate actions will also be taken if required to protect public and animal health, a spokesman for the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department said today (June 21).

According to the information provided by the Taiwan authority, the patient had no record of travel or poultry exposure before infection. She has recovered and was discharged on May 11. So far, the CFS has not received any report from Taiwan about poultry infection of avian influenza A(H6).

The spokesman said, "Hong Kong does not import any live poultry or poultry meat from Taiwan, but a small quantity of poultry eggs is imported from Taiwan. The CFS will alert local major poultry egg importers, distributors and supermarket retailers to the incident and remind them to maintain a good recording system in accordance with the requirements of the Food Safety Ordinance to allow source tracing if needed. The CFS will continue to liaise closely with them over the issue."

He added, "The avian influenza antigen detection administered on imported live poultry at the Man Kam To border already covers the detection of A(H6). So far no imported live poultry has tested positive for A(H6)."

The virus H6N1 in poultry is commonly found as a low pathogenic avian influenza virus. It is not stipulated as a notifiable avian influenza by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

The spokesman reminded the public and employees of food businesses to pay attention to the following points when handling live poultry, poultry products or eggs:

  • Wash hands thoroughly with soap or liquid cleanser after handling live poultry, poultry products and eggs;
  • Clean thoroughly all the working surfaces, utensils and equipment that have been used for handling the above;
  • Wash eggs if they are soiled with faecal matter or stained with dirt. Washed eggs should be cooked immediately;
  • Avoid consuming eggs with cracked shell as they are prone to being contaminated;
  • Do not use raw or undercooked eggs for preparation of food that will not be cooked further; and
  • Do not eat raw eggs or dip cooked food into any mixed sauce of raw eggs. Cook eggs thoroughly until the white and the yolk become firm.

The CFS will remain vigilant about information on avian influenza A infection issued by Taiwan and the OIE, and appropriate action will be taken whenever necessary in response to the latest developments.

Ends/Friday, June 21, 2013
Issued at HKT 20:06