Hong Kong chicken flu slaughter "failed"

 作者:薛淑     |      日期:2019-03-05 08:20:05
By Emma Young Genetic tests on the latest strain of avian flu to hit Hong Kong show it is based on the strain that caused a devastating outbreak in 2001. This shows that last year’s attempt to eradicate the virus by slaughtering the entire chicken population of over a million failed, say Chinese scientists. In 1997, an influenza strain that infected Hong Kong chickens jumped the species barrier, killing six of the 18 people it infected. Scientists fear that the region’s farms and live fowl markets could be the cauldron in which a virus mutates into a form capable of triggering the next flu pandemic. Guan Yi, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong says all live chicken farms in the region should be closed and the importation of live chickens from mainland China banned, to try to ensure this does not happen. “I believe we have to get rid of the farms, and the poultry markets, and the import of fresh chickens,” he told China Daily. The genetic tests on the strains that hit in 2001 and in February 2002 were conducted at St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, a centre for research on animal influenza. They revealed that the 2002 H5N1 genotype was more complex than that of the 2001 strain, but it was “based on last year’s virus”, Guan said. In 2001, a slaughter of the entire population of more than one million chickens was attempted, to try to wipe out the virus. In February 2002, almost 900,000 chickens were killed. A new outbreak of avian flu is currently spreading in Hong Kong, but this strain has not yet been analysed. Officials have again begun killing chickens, and hundreds of thousands more are being inoculated. There is strong local opposition to Guan’s calls for a closure of all chicken farms and market, China Daily reports. “Avian influenza is just like any human flu – you just cannot get rid of it. However, it does not make sense to get rid of the poultry industry to get rid of the bird flu. That would be an ignorant act,” said Peter Wong Chun-kow,