Hong Kong finds egret with bird flu in city park

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HONG KONG, Nov 24 (Reuters) A little egret found in a Hong Kong park has tested positive for the H5N1 bird flu virus, the government said today.

The bird was collected at the Tuen Mun Park in the New Territories on November 18, the city's agriculture, fisheries and conservation department said in a brief statement.

It urged Hong Kong residents to avoid personal contact with wild birds and live poultry, and to clean hands after any contact.

It is not the first appearance of the disease in the territory: at least 17 infected birds were discovered in the first half of this year.

The virus has caused more than 200 deaths globally since 2003, according to World Health Organisation data.

Although most people who have caught bird flu have had direct or indirect contact with infected fowl, experts fear the constantly mutating virus could change into a form easily transmitted from person to person. This could sweep the world, killing millions.

Earlier this month, an Indonesian man from Riau province on Sumatra island died of bird flu, taking that country's death toll from the disease to more than 90, the highest in the world.

REUTERS RJ KP1705

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