Bird Flu Fears Prompt Slaughter of Nearly 20,000 Birds in Hong Kong

I know this is probably the last thing you want to read after those The Stand-esque concerns about bird flu that have been in the news for the past few days, but officials in Hong Kong have culled nearly 20,000 birds after an infected chicken was discovered at a market.

In addition to slaughtering 19,451 birds in order to combat fears of avian flu in Hong Kong, the import of live poultry has been banned in the region until January 12th. The protective measures were put into place after the chicken carcass carrying deadly H5N1 virus was located in the wholesale part of the food supply.

Yuen Kwok-yung, chairman of infectious diseases at the University of Hong Kong’s department of microbiology, said that residents should not be fearful because of the cautionary measures, and added that the preventative measures against a bird flu outbreak in Hong Kong are considerable:

“Hong Kong has the best H5N1 contingency plan to be found in any part of the world… We should not panic. Every winter there is increased H5N1 activity in poultry and migratory birds.”

However, panic about the disease is somewhat understandable. According to the Atlanta-based Centers For Disease Control (CDC), around 500 people worldwide have contracted bird flu since 2003. Of those infected with the deadly H5N1 strain, the mortality rate has been a somewhat-terrifying 60%- that while not Captain Trips level scary, does warrant a bit of healthy concern.

Workers connected with the market and farmers have been tested for bird flu, but public health officials say that no human infections have yet turned up.