December 22, 2011
Hong Kong authorities halted the trading of live poultry for three weeks following confirmation that a dead chicken was found to carry the highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus.
York Chow, Hong Kong's secretary for food and health, said late Tuesday (Dec 20) night that the dead chicken found at a wholesale poultry market had tested positive for the flu strain.
Hong Kong authorities, who are still trying to track down the source of the virus, have also raised the avian flu alert level to "serious."
Meanwhile, health workers arrived at the wholesale market Wednesday morning to start culling all 17,000 chickens there.
The H5N1 virus first broke out in Hong Kong in 1997, leading to the deaths of six people.
Humans have little or no immunity to the H5N1 bird flu strain, according to the website of the US Department of Health & Human Services.
As of Dec. 15, 2011, the World Health Organisation had recorded 573 cases of H5N1 around the world since 2003, of which 336 patients died.