Bird Flu Rapidly Spreading in Russia, Kazakhstan

Russian health workers have found mass bird deaths in a region west of the Ural mountains, in what could become the first case of deadly bird flu virus spreading to Europe, Russian health officials announced Wednesday, Aug. 17, 2005.

Russia has been trying to contain an outbreak of the H5N1 virus since mid-July, when the first case of the disease was reported in Siberia and later in neighboring Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

Russian health officials said the bird deaths occurred on a farm in the Caspian region of Kalmykia, 2,000 km (1,200 miles) from the region where the country’s first avian flu outbreak was reported. No cases among humans have been confirmed in Russia.

Kalmykia is 1,800 km south of Moscow and is the only Buddhist region in Europe.

The avian flu epidemic, officially identified in six Siberian regions, has yet to be confirmed on the west side of the Ural mountains, which separate Asia from Europe.

Officials fear migrating birds could export the disease to Western Europe, Africa and the Middle East over the coming months.

Additionally, poultry mortality Kazinform has reported in the Yesil region of north Kazakhstan on Aug. 12-16, 2005, according to the Kazakhstan Emergency Ministry. The Republican veterinary laboratory detected bird flu antibodies in tested samples.

Quarantine measures have been applied in teh region; entry and departure are strictly limited, and 678 birds have been culled.

According to the Kazakhstan Emergency Ministry, veterinarians and antiepidemic brigades are currently working to control the spread of the disease.


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