Hong Kong detected a case of H5N1 bird flu [avian A/(H5N1) influenza virus infection] in a woman who may have caught the disease in [mainland] China, Secretary for Food and Health, York Chow, told reporters this evening [17 Nov 2010]. There was no indication of human-to-human transmission of the influenza and relatives of the 59-year-old woman are showing no symptoms, Chow said. The Hong Kong government raised its flu response level to "serious," Chow said.

The woman returned this month [November 2010] from a trip to [mainland] China and her husband said she had visited a poultry market and eaten chicken, said Thomas Tsang, controller of the Centre for Health Protection, at a news conference. "I don't think we can say with certainty whether it is an imported case or a local case," Chow said. Health officials will conduct viral studies to see if they can match the virus strain to samples found previously in northern or southern China, Chow said.

The woman returned to Hong Kong on Mon 1 Nov 2010 and showed flu symptoms one day later, Tsang said. She remains hospitalized in serious condition with a lung infection and might be placed in intensive care, he said. The woman had visited Shanghai, Nanjing, and Hangzhou on her trip, the officials said.

A total of 6 people died in Hong Kong in a 1997 bird flu outbreak that prompted health authorities to cull all the chickens and ducks in the city.