June 7, 2008 / 9:58 AM / 9 years ago

Hong Kong finds H5N1 bird flu in poultry market

<p>Officers from the Health and Environmental Hygiene Department cull 2,700 birds in a market after it was declared an infected area in Hong Kong June 7, 2008. The government has ordered an immediate ban on all poultry imports from the mainland, after the H5N1 virus was found in samples collected from poultry stalls at the market, government radio said on Saturday.Bobby Yip</p>

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong has found the feared H5N1 bird flu virus at a poultry stall in one of the territory's many markets and ordered the culling of 2,700 birds, a government spokeswoman said on Saturday.

The official said Hong Kong had banned poultry imports from mainland China for 21 days, as well as from local farms in the territory, while it worked to discover the source of the infection.

She added there had been no human infection detected. The virus was discovered in the Po On Road market in the city's Sham Shui Po neighborhood.

It is not the first appearance of the disease in the territory, with infected wild birds discovered in 2007.

Since the virus resurfaced in Asia in late 2003, it has killed 241 people in a dozen countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Although most people who have caught bird flu have had direct or indirect contact with infected fowl, experts fear the constantly mutating H5N1 virus could change into a form easily transmitted from person to person. This could sweep the world, killing millions.

Reporting by Jeffrey Hodgson; Editing by Alex Richardson

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