Hong Kong to cull 20,000 chickens after H7N9 found

January 27, 2014

Hong Kong will cull approximately 20,000 chickens after discovering the H7N9 avian influenza virus in a batch of poultry imported from mainland China, authorities said Monday.

The positive reading came just days after the southern Chinese city introduced widespread testing of imported following growing public concern over the safety of imports, particularly from the mainland.

Two people have died from the human form of the virus in Hong Kong since the first infection was publicly reported in December.

On Friday the city introduced a serological test for H7 in live poultry and soon discovered a batch that tested positive for the virus.

"A government department has confirmed that the sample chicken from the chicken imported from the mainland tested positive for H7N9 ," Hong Kong health minister Ko Wing-man told reporters late Monday.

"All the poultry in the wholesale market will be destroyed tomorrow morning... the total number of chickens concerned amounts to 20,000," Ko said, declaring the market to be an "infected place".

The government's decision comes less than a week before Chinese New Year, which starts on Friday, when live chicken is a popular dish at banquets and family gatherings.

"Because we have to close the wholesale poultry market... for the next 21 days, there will be no supply of live chicken," Ko said, suggesting that residents eat frozen chicken instead.

The market in the Cheung Sha Wan region of the city, which holds imported poultry into the city until cleared of infection, will be closed for disinfection.

Hong Kong culled 17,000 chickens in December of 2011 and suspended live poultry imports for 21 days after three birds tested positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of .

A 65-year-old Hong Kong man with H7N9 died on January 14, less than a week after he was infected with the deadly virus. He was found to have traveled to the neighbouring mainland Chinese city of Shenzhen a week before he was infected.

An 80-year old man died on Boxing Day last year after he was infected with the virus.

Hong Kong is particularly alert to the spread of viruses after an outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) swept through the city in 2003, killing 299 people and infecting around 1,800.

The H7N9 outbreak began in China in February 2013 and reignited fears that a could mutate to become easily transmissible, potentially triggering a pandemic.

Explore further: Hong Kong reports second H7N9 death

Related Stories

Hong Kong reports second H7N9 death

January 13, 2014

A Hong Kong man infected with the deadly H7N9 bird flu died late Monday, less than a week after he was confirmed to be infected with the deadly virus, authorities said.

Hong Kong reports first H7N9 death

December 26, 2013

A Hong Kong man infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu died on Thursday, the first such death in the city since the virus emerged there this month.

Recommended for you

Zika virus infection alters human and viral RNA

October 20, 2016

Researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine have discovered that Zika virus infection leads to modifications of both viral and human genetic material. These modifications—chemical tags known as ...

Food-poisoning bacteria may be behind Crohn's disease

October 19, 2016

People who retain a particular bacterium in their gut after a bout of food poisoning may be at an increased risk of developing Crohn's disease later in life, according to a new study led by researchers at McMaster University.

Neurodevelopmental model of Zika may provide rapid answers

October 19, 2016

A newly published study from researchers working in collaboration with the Regenerative Bioscience Center at the University of Georgia demonstrates fetal death and brain damage in early chick embryos similar to microcephaly—a ...

Scientists uncover new facets of Zika-related birth defects

October 17, 2016

In a study that could one day help eliminate the tragic birth defects caused by Zika virus, scientists from the Florida campus of The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) have elucidated how the virus attacks the brains of newborns, ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.