Source Pravda.Ru

Russia's public health ministry says bird flu has not spread further

Russia's chief public health official voiced optimism that the bird flu that has killed domestic fowl in several regions of Siberia has stabilized.

Gennady Onishchenko said quarantines were already being lifted in some settlements and ruled out earlier reports that the disease had spread to domestic birds in Gorno-Altai, another Siberian region, where a wild duck was found to be a carrier.

Experts are also still trying to determine whether the virus had spread to the southern province of Kalmykia, he said.

"As far as September is concerned, we need to hold the situation within the present boundaries and to reduce the expansion as much as possible before water birds fly away from here," he told a news conference.

The bird flu, blamed on wild migratory birds from South East Asia, was first detected in a Siberian region in July and has since then spread to at least five other provinces, including the region which lies on the border of the Asian and European parts of Russia.

The H5N1 strain of the flu can be lethal to humans, but no human cases have been registered in Russia.

Nearly 14,000 poultry have died of the disease, according to Onishchenko's agency, and the Emergency Situations Ministry said about 130,000 birds have been slaughtered to keep the disease from spreading.

The ministry estimated that the flu outbreak has cost Russia at least 38 million rubles (US$1.35 million, Ђ1.08 million), besides the cost of quarantine and other preventive measures.

Onishchenko said he will ask regional leaders to ban bird-hunting later this year, since the wild birds may be carrying the infection.

In line with other Russian officials, Onishchenko warned that all countries and continents were at risk of being affected by the flu next year when wild birds migrate to more countries.