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Hong Kong halts some US poultry imports due to bird flu in US

[HONG KONG] Hong Kong said Monday it has suspended imports of certain US poultry and poultry products because strains of avian influenza have been identified in the United States, marking the second foreign market to issue such a ban.

Two separate virus strains were identified in Whatcom County, Washington, including H5N2 in northern pintail ducks, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a statement last week. This same strain has killed thousands of birds on two Canadian farms in British Columbia.

In addition, the highly pathogenic 85N8 strain was confirmed in guinea fowl and chickens in a backyard poultry flock in the city of Winston, Oregon.

Neither virus has been found in US commercial poultry.

No human cases involving either viral strain have been detected in the United States or Canada, and there are no immediate public health concerns, a USDA spokeswoman told Reuters on Monday.

Regardless, Hong Kong's Centre for Food Safety (CFS) of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department announced Monday that it has banned any imports of poultry meat, and other poultry products including eggs, from Douglas County, Oregon, according to a statement posted on its web site. Winston is located in Douglas County.

About 220,000 tonnes of frozen poultry meat and about 426 million poultry eggs were imported into Hong Kong from the US from January to October this year, according to the statement. How many of these imports came from either Oregon or Washington was not known.

The ban came two days after South Korea issued its own ban on Saturday as that country struggles to contain its own outbreak of bird flu in birds.