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this from ... http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle1409204.ece


From The Times
February 20, 2007

Villages sealed off as bird flu reaches outskirts of capital

Tony Halpin in Moscow

Thousands of Russians were undergoing tests last night after an outbreak of bird flu at chicken farms on the outskirts of Moscow.
Health officials confirmed that chickens at two farms within 30 miles (49km) of the capital had died from the H5N1 strain of the virus. Dead birds suspected of being contaminated were also being tested at three other locations near Moscow.
“Medical monitoring is under way for 5,453 residents in the relevant areas, including 20 citizens who were in direct contact with the infected birds,” said Gennady Onishchenko, Russia’s chief epidemiologist. No illnesses had been reported among human beings so far, he said.
This is the first time that bird flu has been detected so close to Moscow, which is home to more than ten million people. Officials established quarantine zones around villages in affected areas and began bird vaccination programmes. Veterinary officials have established that the bird flu virus came from chickens bought at a Moscow bird market. More than 150 birds have died at private farms around the city in the past ten days.
“From the very beginning we have been taking safety measures, assuming that it was this strain, so the confirmation does not change anything,” said Nikolai Vlasov, director of veterinary inspection for Russia’s state agricultural agency.
The virus was found previously in 2005 in poultry plants in the Krasnodar region of Russia, 625 miles south of Moscow.
Sergei Yeremin, director of the World Health Organisation’s bird flu programme in Russia, said that this experience had left the country “highly prepared” for the present outbreak.
“There have been no cases of human infection in Russia, though it is located in a migratory zone for wild birds. This is one of the signs that Russia is ready,” he said.
“What worries us more is the source of the infected birds, how they wound up at the market.”
The Moscow regional prosecutor said that it had begun a criminal inquiry to establish “the source of the illness and the guilty parties who violated veterinary rules”.
Russia’s Interior Ministry ordered measures to prevent any possible spread of the infection. Police visited every house in the affected districts to seek information about possible sick birds, while road traffic inspectors were checking all poultry vehicles.
Valery Sitnikov, Moscow’s chief veterinarian, said that he was confident that the spread of the virus had been contained. “The incubation period of the disease is one to two days, which means that if there had been a massive die-off of hens elsewhere, we would have learnt about it,” he said.
Estonia responded to the outbreak by banning the sale of birds in markets. Azerbaijan also banned imports of poultry from farms around Moscow.
167 deaths among the 273 people infected by the virus since 2003
Source: Times archives
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00110001 00110011 01101011 and damn proud of it!

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