Avian Flu Returns to Hong Kong

HONG KONG-Thousands of chickens have been killed by Hong Kong health officials in an attempt to prevent a bird flu virus from mutating into a potentially lethal human disease.

Markets were evacuated as health workers rounded up chickens to be slaughtered. This is the third round of avian flu for the Asian island in the past few years. The first major outbreak occurred in 1997. The virus mutated into a human form and killed 6 people before it was brought under control.

More than 200,000 chickens have been killed to prevent the flu from spreading. With the Chinese New Year celebrated tomorrow, the outbreak is significantly impacting the economy. Many of the traditional chicken dishes will not be prepared for the festivities. Officials report retailers have already list $12.8 million dollars in sales since the weekend.

The flu is reportedly from the H5NI goose family-the same strain responsible for killing humans in 1997.

Information from www.reuters.com