Saturday, December 10, 2005

News - Bird flu could be spreading across Crimea: official

Fears have been expressed that the outbreak of bird flu on the Ukraine's Crimea peninsula could have spread to other parts of the region.

"As of December 8, we had detected the deaths of poultry on new territories in Crimea," said a statement issued on Friday by the Health Ministry.

"As of December 9 the bird flu was confirmed by laboratory tests in nine villages. Dead poultry were detected in 17 villages," it added.

The disease appeared to be spreading north and south along the coastline, said the statement, adding that the main carriers of the disease are wild birds living in marshland on the Crimean east coast.

The new suspected cases were found in two villages near the Black Sea port of Theodossia in the south, in another village in the north of the peninsula and in Simferopol, the capital of the autonomous republic, according to the statement.

Further tests were required to confirm it was bird flu and establish the exact strain, said the statement.

In addition, information from Moscow confirmed on Friday that the bird flu virus detected last weekend in several villages in north-eastern Crimea is the H5N1 strain.

"This is so-called Asian strain H5N1 that poses a potential threat to man," Russian chief agriculture inspector Sergei Dankvert told Itar-Tass, referring to the virus found in the Ukraine and sent to the All-Russia Research Institute of Animal Protection for testing.

The disease has spread rapidly across the Crimea peninsula since last weekend, when around 2,500 birds died in a matter of hours in five villages in the region.

Earlier this week, President Viktor Yushchenko announced a state of emergency in the affected areas and the country's Emergency Situations Ministry seized about 28,000 birds in villages in a sealed-off exclusion zone.

No human case of bird flu was reported in the Ukraine so far, and the country is vaccinating the population in the affected are against regular flu to boost their immunity. Enditem

Xinhua - English: "Bird flu could be spreading across Crimea: official"

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