Bird Flu, SARS and Beyond
In the politically sensitive year of 1997, Hong Kong experienced an outbreak of avian flu when the deadly H5N1 virus unprecedentedly jumped the species barrier from chickens and infected human beings. Hong Kong decided to slaughter over a million chickens, and the virus was stopped in its tracks. In 2003, Hong Kong was the epicenter of the SARS pandemic, which originated in Guangdong province. The Faculty of Medicine played key roles in both instances, with its Microbiology Department successfully identifying a novel coronavirus as being responsible for SARS. Hong Kong learned from its experience and took action to combat the emergence of new infectious diseases. Such vigilance paid off in 2009, when swine flu swept the world, and in 2013, when a novel avian flu H7N9 emerged in China.