Hong Kong Flu Update

A ProMED-mail post
Date: Tue, 30 Dec 1997 08:46:26
[Media sources summarized, reworded, and probably distorted by Moderator CHC]

It appears that it has been possible to slaughter only about 20% of the birds intended for slaughter. 1.2 million are a lot of chickens. Efforts continue.

Killing all the chickens in Hong Kong may not eliminate the risk of H5N1 transmission there, no matter to whom, to what, or whether it is being transmitted, unless chickens comprise the sole source of the virus. It may be that other birds also are infected. David Heymann, Director of W.H.O.'s Communicable Diseases Division was quoted as saying that the virus (influenzavirus A H5N1) is capable of infecting other species of birds but it is not known whether these birds are infected. Ducks, geese, quail, partridges, and pigeons also are being culled.

More than 1,000 chickens in south China proper have been tested by the Chinese Government but none was positive.

As this is beginning to sound to me like the description of an outbreak of hysteria, rather than an outbreak of a disease (except in chickens), ProMED-mail will not post further messages in this string unless there are data concerning human illnesses. How many chickens, ducks and geese have or have not died, how many people are trying to sell chickens at a discount in Hong Kong (better to post this on Interpol's web site than on ProMED-mail), and how much a dead chicken is worth are not questions I want to continue staying up all night to answer.

Investigations of this chicken business is in the hands of the most competent people Hong Kong, C.D.C., and W.H.O. have. That's good enough for me. We will henceforth let them do their work and wait for some real results.

Charles H. Calisher, Ph.D. Moderator, ProMED-mail AIDL, Department of Microbiology Colorado State University Fort Collins, Colorado

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