H5N1-infected bird found in Hong Kong

first_imgJan 8, 2007 (CIDRAP News) – Hong Kong government officials recently announced that a wild bird found dead near a busy shopping district on Dec 31 tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza.The infection in a scaly-breasted munia, a species often imported from mainland China and released in religious ceremonies, marks the first case found in Hong Kong since February 2006, according to reports published by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Hong Kong has reported no human H5N1 cases since 1997, when the virus first jumped to humans.The Hong Kong government’s Jan 6 press release on the H5N1 finding doesn’t specify if the virus was the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain, but Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported that it was.Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department (AFCD) announced Jan 4 that a preliminary test for the virus was positive and confirmatory tests were being conducted. AFP reported that the bird was the only one of 6 dead birds found that tested positive for the virus.A bird watcher from Hong Kong who posted an item yesterday on ProMED-mail, the Internet-based reporting system of the International Society for Infectious Diseases, said the scaly-breasted munia is not frequently seen in urban Hong Kong but is said to be one of the 2 species most commonly released during religious ceremonies at temples. The practice of releasing these birds is a concern, he said, because they’re not subject to the disease-prevention measures used with poultry, and sellers and buyers can come into contact with infected bird droppings.The Hong Kong AFCD, in a Jan 6 press release, advised the public not to release birds, because they have little chance of surviving in the wild. A department spokesperson said the AFCD has contacted community groups, including religious groups, to warn them about releasing birds.The statement did not refer specifically to the H5N1 case, but it said pet birds imported from mainland China must come from registered farms and be accompanied by a veterinary health certificate certifying that the birds have been quarantined and have tested negative for H5 avian flu viruses.Farms on the mainland that are allowed to export birds to Hong Kong are inspected by mainland authorities and occasionally by AFCD authorities and must have had no avian flu outbreaks in the past 180 days.The government said its records show that 38,000 munias, including white-backed and scaly-breasted ones, were imported into Hong Kong from the mainland in 2006. It added that the scaly-breasted Munia is a resident bird in Hong Kong and has been found all over the territory.A department spokesperson advised Hong Kong residents to avoid personal contact with wild birds and live poultry and to wash their hands thoroughly after coming into contact with birds.Meanwhile, in Vietnam, several ducks have died in the past few days in the southern province of Soc Trang, prompting concern about the further spread of avian flu. Xinhua, China’s official news agency, reported yesterday that specimens from the ducks were sent for avian flu testing.If tests are positive, Soc Trang will be the fourth province affected in the recent series of outbreaks, which started in early December in the south Mekong Delta provinces of Ca Mau and Bac Lieu, spreading to nearby Hau Giang province. OIE reports list 32 outbreaks during that period.Officials from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are in talks with the Vietnamese government about sending experts to investigate the source of the outbreaks, Voice of America News reported today.Aphaluck Bhatiasevi, a spokesperson for the FAO office in Hanoi, told VOA the outbreak isn’t surprising, because officials believe the virus is still present. “The information that we’ve got so far is that the recent outbreaks were triggered as a result of raising illegal ducks,” she said. In earlier news reports, officials blamed local animal health officials and farmers for not maintaining poultry vaccination programs and farmers for hatching poultry illegally.In December, an FAO-OIE crisis management team traveled to South Korea to investigate the H5N1 outbreaks in poultry that occurred south of Seoul in late November.See also:Jan 6 Hong Kong government press releasehttp://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/200701/06/P200701060189.htmJan 6 Hong Kong press releasehttp://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/200701/06/P200701060187.htmWikipedia photo of scaly-breasted muniahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaly-breasted_muniaJan 7 ProMed mail report on Hong Kong birdOIE reports on Vietnam 2006-07 outbreakhttp://www.oie.int/downld/AVIAN%20INFLUENZA/A2006_AI.phplast_img read more

Bahamas budget deficit estimated at $500 million

first_img Share Sharing is caring! Tweet Share Sharecenter_img NewsRegional Bahamas budget deficit estimated at $500 million by: – May 23, 2012 48 Views   no discussions Bradlet Roberts. Photo credit: thenassauguardian.comNASSAU, Bahamas — Progressive Liberal Party (PLP) Chairman Bradley Roberts revealed on Monday that the incoming Christie administration in The Bahamas has met a budget deficit of around $500 million, and said he would be ‘shocked’ if criminal charges are not brought after an investigation into the management of public funds by the previous government.Asked about this figure on Monday, Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Perry Christie told The Nassau Guardian he was not sure of the figure that his team had come up with as he was busy preparing the Speech from the Throne.He suggested that The Guardian speak to Minister of State for Finance Michael Halkitis.However, Deputy Prime Minister Philip Brave Davis confirmed the figure when he spoke to The Nassau Guardian on Monday.Davis blamed the Free National Movement (FNM) government’s “mismanagement” and “abuse” of the public purse.Davis, who is the minister of works and urban development, also said the PLP administration has launched an investigation into the former government’s management of public funds and added that criminal charges may follow.“Now that we’re in, and looking at what the true facts are, we are definitely approaching the $500 million deficit range,” he said after a swearing in ceremony for 10 senators.“We are doing our investigations with a view to see if we ought to prosecute someone for the abuse that has taken place with the public purse.”When asked who could face prosecution, Davis said, “Once we find where the trail ends and where the buck stops that will be the person.”Davis added that the Christie administration will likely have to borrow a little over $500 million in the 2012/2013 fiscal year as a result of the previous administration’s spending and to make good on the new government’s pledges to the Bahamian people.Roberts made the same declaration when he spoke to The Nassau Guardian after an appearance on the More 94.9 FM program “Real Talk Live” with Ortland Bodie, where he originally made the revelations.The borrowing would add to the national debt, which is currently hovering at just over $4 billion.Davis told The Guardian, “We will have to borrow that and borrow additional funds to be able to implement some of our initiatives and programs.”He claimed the high deficit is the result of the Ingraham administration’s negligence and bad planning.“The deficit, there is no doubt in my mind, is due to mismanagement, politics and priorities,” he said.Roberts said that several programs launched by the FNM administration, such as Self Starter and Jump Start, were election ploys that went over budget.“The budget on the jobs program was $25 million. I understand that will exceed or closely exceed $50 million,” he said.“The Jump Start program has also gone through the roof, I’m advised. They spent more money than was budgeted.”“The full details of it are all going to come out in due course. The way I understand some of those were implemented, my God, it will make all Bahamians sick to their stomach.“Some people never even reported to work and were getting paid. Some people would go to work and sit around doing nothing. Some of those jobs were only given out a day before the election, some on the election [day].”Davis could not confirm if these programs were indeed over budget, but said he too thinks they were election ploys.Three weeks before the May 7 election, Christie, who at the time was leader of the opposition, said the PLP would likely have to borrow at least $300 million in order to finance the country’s capital expenditure commitments if it was elected to office.By Taneka ThompsonNassau Guardian Senior Reporterlast_img read more