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No humans infected in Russia bird flu outbreak

No humans have been infected in a bird flu outbreak in Russia, the country’s consumers rights watchdog said on Monday.
/ Source: Reuters

No humans have been infected in a bird flu outbreak in Russia, 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 neighboring 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.

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. The Agriculture ministry said the virus had been 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 over 10,000 domestic birds in past days to prevent the virus spreading, according to the emergencies ministry.