Hong Kong health workers recently began culling more than 17,000 chickens after finding a chicken carcass infected with avian influenza at a poultry market, according to reports. 

The first large-scale cull since 2008 was done as part of precautionary measures officials are taking after finding the carcass infected with "highly pathogenic H5N1 avian influenza virus," said York Chow, Hong Kong's secretary for food and health.

Hong Kong officials also raised the territory’s avian influenza alert to “serious” and closed the market where the infected bird carcass was found until January 12, 2012. The government also suspended the sale and import of live poultry for 21 days, Chow said, though officials are still determining whether the carcass was imported or came from a local source.