January 14, 2004



China To Vaccinate Chickens For Export To Hong Kong


China will worked with Hong Kong to prevent bird flu entering the territory by vaccinating all live chicken exports.


"We have agreed with the mainland authorities, for all live chickens that come into Hong Kong, that they are vaccinated for H5N1," said Hong Kong's health minister Yeoh Eng-kiong.   


"By the 15th of this month, all the chickens coming into Hong Kong into our farms will be vaccinated."                      


In a region already tense with the return of SARS, the rapid spread of the H5N1 flu virus in Vietnam, South Korea and Japan in recent days has jolted Hong Kong, where the virus first jumped the species barrier and killed six people in 1997.                                


The Hong Kong deaths in 1997 were never fully understood although scientists say the victims probably caught the virus directly from birds, rather than from humans.                 


But they have long said that both SARS and the H5N1 could reemerge during the winter months, traditionally the peak season for human influenza. Scientists fear the bugs could mix with human flu and produce even deadlier and more infectious strains.  

Hong Kong relies almost entirely on mainland China for its chicken imports, or over 70,000 live birds a day.           

It also imports chilled and frozen chicken, mainly from China and the United States.

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