Christchurch Airport bird flu scare a 'non-event'

A bird flu scare at Christchurch Airport last night was a non-event, health authorities say.

A man with a high fever who arrived on a Pacific Blue flight from Sydney, was cleared of any bird flu connection shortly after being seen by medical authorities at the airport.

Passengers on the flight were held on the aircraft for some time while the ill person was removed to an ambulance on the tarmac shortly after midnight.

Pacific Blue marketing manager Jo Wedlock said the passenger, who had visited the Philippines recently, had a high fever and displayed flu-like symptoms.

The aircraft crew followed Ministry of Health guidelines, alerting the ministry and the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry. An ambulance was then dispatched to meet the aircraft.

"The passenger was fully checked out and cleared as having just the regular flu," Ms Wedlock said.

Canterbury medical officer of health Mel Brieseman said the incident was a "non-event".

"A patient came in unwell. The possibility of bird flu was considered and rejected," he said.

Dr Brieseman said the possibility of bird flu was raised occasionally when air passengers arrived unwell from Asian destinations.

"It has to be considered when it's raised and dealt with appropriately," he said. "In this case it was considered and rejected."

- NZPA

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