China Reports Bird Flu Outbreak Near Hong Kong Border

June 17, 2008 Updated: June 17, 2008

BEIJING—China on Tuesday reported a bird flu outbreak in ducks in the southern province of Guangdong, close to Hong Kong where poultry at all commercial markets was culled last week.

The Guangdong outbreak, in a village administered by Jiangmen city, was first detected on June 13, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory confirmed on Tuesday that the virus the birds contracted was a subtype of the H5N1 strain, Xinhua quoted the Ministry of Agriculture as saying.

A total of 3,873 ducks died of the disease and a further 17,127 were culled as part of a contingency plan that the report said had effectively contained the outbreak.

Large parts of densely populated Guangdong province, which provides much of Hong Kong's poultry, have also been battling floods triggered by downpours in the past week.

Hong Kong banned poultry imports from the Chinese mainland for 21 days since the first instance of the virus was discovered there in early June.

China reported its last bird flu outbreak in April in Tibet. It also recorded an outbreak in March in Guangzhou, Guangdong's provincial capital.

With the world's biggest poultry population and hundreds of millions of farmers raising birds in their backyards, China is seen as crucial in the global fight against bird flu.

Scientists fear the bird flu virus could mutate into a form that could pass easily from person to person, sparking a global pandemic.