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Hitt og þetta 8. febrúar 2006

DJ 2nd UPDATE:HK Suspects Bird Flu In Dead Chicken, Egret

HONG KONG (AP)--Bird flu was suspected in the deaths of a chicken and egret found in suburban Hong Kong, and the fowl were being tested Wednesday for the strain that can be deadly in humans, officials said.

The tests could take several days, said spokesman Albert Hui of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's health secretary said if the H5N1 strain of bird flu is found on more than one local chicken farm in more than one chicken, the government will kill all local chickens.

"Of course we hope such a scenario won't occur, but we have to be psychologically prepared," York Chow said.

Five other birds have been found dead from the H5N1 strain in recent weeks.

The chicken and egret were found Tuesday in suburban Tuen Mun district, a government statement said.

The news came as the government sought to reduce the bird flu outbreak risk by banning people from raising poultry at home. The ban, which fines offenders up to HK$100,000, starts Feb. 13.

In the past year, Hong Kong officials have found bird flu in various species including crested myna, heron and magpie.

Hong Kong's last bird flu outbreak, in 1997, killed six people, prompting the government to slaughter all the territory's 1.5 million poultry.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires