Hong Kong culls thousands of chickens as bird flu hits

June 7th, 2008 - 6:18 pm ICT by IANS  

Hong Kong, June 7 (DPA) Thousands of chickens have been slaughtered and poultry imports from mainland China banned after an outbreak of bird flu at a Hong Kong market, officials announced Saturday. The government of the former British colony is now considering whether to cull all poultry in the city if more cases of bird flu are discovered.

The outbreak, the first in Hong Kong in recent years, was discovered at a livestock market in the city’s Shamshuipo district, the government said.

Around 2,700 chickens were slaughtered and tests were being carried out on poultry at other markets in the city of 6.9 million to see if the outbreak had spread.

Health secretary York Chow told a news conference Saturday that all live chicken imports from mainland China, the main source of poultry in the densely populated city, had been immediately banned.

He said that all chickens in the Shamshuipo market had been slaughtered and that the government would consider a territory-wide ban if more cases were discovered elsewhere.

In 1997 six people were killed following infection of the deadly avian influenza virus H5N1 and 12 infected in Hong Kong.

Since then, thanks largely to stringent checks and mass culls when any cases are discovered, there have been no further cases of humans infected by bird flu in Hong Kong.

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