Hong Kong health authorities have announced a cull of the chicken population – destroying 17,000 birds in a wholesale market because a chicken tested positive for the H5N1 avian flu virus. This is the first time a case has been recorded since 2008.
York Chow, who is the secretary for Hong Kong food and health department, said that the detection of the H5N1 virus in local wild birds was concerning as it showed the disease is still a threat to the population. The government have increased the response level against the avian flu from ‘alert’ to ‘serious’, and have subsequently suspended the import of poultry for 21 days until the issue is resolved.
Chow said in a news conference “It is unfortunate that an avian influenza case is detected before the Winter Solstice (Dec. 22), necessitating a halt to the supply of live chickens. I understand that it will cause inconvenience to the public, and the poultry trade will also encounter losses. However, to safeguard public health, we need to adopt decisive and effective measures to prevent and control the spread of the virus.”
Hong Kong have found bird flu in poultry from time to time, however they have had no major outbreaks since 1997, which killed six people and caused the death of 1.5 million birds.
Kitguru says: The latest scare is concerning for the population and more culling of poultry may happen in the coming months if more instances of H5N1 are found.