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No humans infected in Russian bird flu outbreak

by 5m Editor
8 August 2005, at 12:00am

RUSSIA - No humans have been infected in a bird flu outbreak in Russia and the situation remained stable, the country's consumers rights watchdog said on Monday.

No humans infected in Russian bird flu outbreak - RUSSIA - No humans have been infected in a bird flu outbreak in Russia and the situation remained stable, the country's consumers rights watchdog said on Monday.

The highly potent H5N1 strain, confirmed in the Siberian region of Novosibirsk, has swept parts of Asia and killed more than 50 people since 2003. Outbreaks in Russia and, later, in neighbouring Kazakhstan have been reported since mid-July.

"As of August 7, 2005, the epidemic situation ... remains stable... There have been no infections and no one was suspected of having been infected," the watchdog, part of the Russian Health Ministry, said in a statement.

Russia is a major poultry meat importer. The European Union has decided to ban imports of chickens and other products from Russia and Kazakhstan, although in practice there is no trade in poultry between the two countries and the EU.

In a further sign of stabilisation, Itar-Tass news agency quoted Novosibirsk administration officials as saying mass deaths among farm birds largely stopped on Monday in the worst-affected, quarantined areas of the Novosibirsk region.

Mass poultry deaths in Novosibirsk have been registered since July 10, according to media reports.

Some health officials fear the virus that has swept through Asia could mutate into a lethal strain that could rival or exceed the Spanish flu pandemic that killed up to 40 million people across the globe at the end of World War One.

The number of Russian regions hit by the avian flu rose to five at the end of last week. There was no word on the situation in Central Asia's Kazakhstan, where bird flu had broken out in areas neighbouring Russia's Siberia.

The Russian Emergencies Ministry said in a note issued on Monday that a total of 5,573 domestic and wild birds had been affected in the Novosibirsk, Omsk and Tyumen regions.

The Agriculture ministry said earlier the virus had been also confirmed in wildfowl in two locations in the Kurgan region and in one in the Omsk region, both in Siberia, but the virus found in those regions was not highly pathogenic.

Russia has culled tens of thousands of domestic birds in past days to prevent the virus spreading. In Tyumen region alone, more than 12,000 chickens, ducks and geese had been killed, Tass said.

Tass quoted Tyumen officials as saying the virus had been confirmed in another small village called Vorobyovo, but it was unclear how many birds were affected there. Tass said checks were being carried out in a number of nearby settlements.

Interfax news agency reported from Altai, another affected Siberian region, that state inspectors joined forces with local hunters to locate, check and, if necessary, shoot down infected birds, especially in areas near big farms.

Source: Reuters - 8th August 2005

5m Editor