Authorities here slaughtered 2,700 birds and banned live poultry imports from mainland China for as long as 21 days after a routine inspection Saturday found chickens in one of the city’s poultry markets infected with the dangerous H5N1 bird-flu virus.
While there is little immediate threat to humans from the infected birds, the discovery revives concerns that the disease could still be a problem with poultry flocks in southern China — although it isn’t yet clear whether the infected birds came from local or mainland Chinese farms.
Hong Kong authorities said they have reported the incident to their mainland counterparts and are sending experts to inspect mainland farms. York Chow, Hong Kong’s secretary for food and health, said Saturday the government was stepping up inspection of the city’s 64 poultry markets.
“In the past three or four years, we haven’t detected any cases of H5N1 in a Hong Kong poultry market, so this is a bit unusual,” said Yi Guan, a professor of microbiology at Hong Kong University.