WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As of March 10, 2004, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has removed Hong Kong from the jurisdictions included in an importation ban on birds and bird products. The decision to remove Hong Kong is based on its documented public health measures to prevent the spread of avian influenza A (H5N1) and the lack of avian flu cases in Hong Kong's domestic and wild bird populations.
The ban remains in effect for the following countries: Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Laos, the People's Republic of China, South Korea, Thailand and Vietnam. It excludes bird products processed to render them noninfectious and pet or performing birds of U.S. origin returning to the United States from Southeast Asia. Other disease control measures imposed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, including a 30-day quarantine for pet birds, will remain in place as directed by USDA.
The Department of Health and Human Services and the USDA instituted the importation ban on Feb. 4, 2004 as outbreaks of avian flu spread in Southeast Asia. The measure is designed to protect poultry and humans in the United States from the possible spread of avian influenza H5N1, which is responsible for the deaths of millions of birds and at least 22 humans in Asia.
Hong Kong authorities reported a single case of avian influenza in a peregrine falcon in mid-January. Continued surveillance in Hong Kong has detected no additional cases of avian flu H5N1, according to the Hong Kong Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food. In addition, since Jan. 30, Hong Kong has suspended importation of live birds from countries affected by the outbreak. Authorities there have also has imposed a vaccination, inspection and surveillance program for poultry farms, live poultry markets and pet bird dealers; implemented measures to prevent the spread of the virus through human traffic across the border; and required local poultry farms to implement strict biosecurity programs.
The CDC says the ban will be reviewed and may be further amended as the situation continues to develop.