1 mln birds to be vaccinated from bird flu near Moscow
19/02/2007 16:30 MOSCOW, February 19 (RIA Novosti) - At least a million domestic birds will be vaccinated against avian influenza near Moscow now that the disease has reached areas surrounding the Russian capital, a senior local veterinary official said Monday.
"All the birds will be vaccinated for free," Olga Gavrilenko, head of the local department of Russia's veterinary watchdog, said after a deadly virus of bird flu was registered in five districts of the Moscow Region at the weekend.
All poultry in the region is normally inoculated twice a year, in spring and in fall. But in view of the current epidemic, experts have recommended that all the birds be immunized again.
Five cases of avian flu were registered last Saturday in various districts of the Moscow Region, all of which were traced to a single market in southwest Moscow. The Russian agricultural watchdog confirmed Monday that a bird flu outbreak near Moscow involved the deadly H5N1 virus.
"The virus is the Asian type of bird flu, which is dangerous for humans," said Alexei Alexeyenko, a spokesperson for the Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision.
The Emergency Situations Ministry has said 150 dead birds were found at private farms in the Domodedovo, the Odintsovo, the Podolsk, the Naro-Fominsk and the Taldom districts of the Moscow Region last week, but that no cases of humans infected by the virus have been registered so far.
Moscow's veterinary and food safety experts have urged local residents to avoid buying poultry at unauthorized locations. Prosecutors have launched a probe into "veterinary violations".
According to the World Health Organization, the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has claimed 167 human lives globally since it first appeared in Asia in 2003. It has since spread worldwide, and scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form transmissible between humans, sparking a global pandemic.
Russia recorded its first cases of avian flu in August 2005, but until now outbreaks have occurred only in southern provinces and in Siberia. The most recent bird flu outbreak occurred in mid-January in the southern region of Krasnodar, but by February it had been contained.
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