December 14, 2007 / 2:55 AM / 12 years ago

Hong Kong bird reserve closed after H5N1 case

HONG KONG, Dec 14 (Reuters) - A wild heron in Hong Kong has tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus, prompting authorities to close a bird reserve on the border with China on Friday.

Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said the grey heron, a migratory species, was found sick on December 5 near the reserve. It later died and tests confirmed it was infected with the H5N1 avian influenza.

"As a precautionary measure, the Mai Po Nature Reserve will be temporarily closed to visitors for 21 days," Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department said in a statement.

"We will monitor the situation closely and review the closure period as necessary," it added.

A 24-year-old Chinese man surnamed Lu from eastern Jiangsu province died last week of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in the first case in China since June.

Chinese state media have warned of a "very high" possibility of bird flu over winter and spring.

Mai Po and its lush wetlands straddling the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen and Hong Kong, have for decades been an important wintering point for tens of thousands of waterbirds. (Reporting by James Pomfret; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

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