Washington—In December 1997, news watchers were confronted with sobering images of government workers in Hong Kong slaughtering 1.4 million chickens in a massive effort to prevent avian influenza from spreading through the densely populated city and, potentially, across the globe.
Earlier that year, what was later identified as a strain of influenza previously known to infect birds, but not people, had sent 18 patients to Hong Kong hospitals. The first case led to the death of a 3-year-old boy, followed by the deaths of five other patients.
Vastag B. Hong Kong Flu Still Poses Pandemic Threat. JAMA. 2002;288(19):2391-2395. doi:10.1001/jama.288.19.2391