The Centre for Health Protection has issued a long news release: Hong Kong and Mainland to launch H7 avian influenza serological test next Friday. Excerpt:
Starting from January 24, Hong Kong and the Mainland will conduct serological test for H7 avian influenza (AI) on live poultry at Mainland registered farms and the Man Kam To Animal Inspection Station. Serological test will also be introduced to local poultry farms in Hong Kong on the same day.
The Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG), the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and the relevant Mainland entry-exit inspection and quarantine authorities (CIQs) reached consensus on this decision after discussions.
The Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, today (January 17) announced the above decision and the relevant arrangements at a meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Food Safety and Environmental Hygiene.
"At present, stringent biosecurity measures, traceability arrangements, vaccination programme for poultry against H5 AI and import protocol are imposed on all Mainland registered farms that export poultry to Hong Kong. All live poultry bound for Hong Kong must be accompanied by an official animal health certificate and delivered to Man Kam To directly from the registered farms. These farms are subject to regular inspections by the relevant CIQs and the Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) to ensure compliance with the prescribed AI control requirements.
"The existing AI preventive and control measures have been effective in preventing AI. Building on such a foundation, we have decided to introduce the serological test, which serves as an additional surveillance measure on poultry or farms to determine if they have been infected with H7 AI in the past. This can further strengthen the capability in background monitoring and in providing alerts at the farm level.
"While a positive result in serological test reflects the fact that the live poultry have been infected in the past, it does not mean the concerned chickens are carrying AI virus at the time when being tested. To ascertain if individual birds are carrying AI virus, we rely on genetic testing for H7 AI which is currently in use," Dr Ko said.