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11 Apr, 2008 11:58

Bird flu strikes Russia

Initial tests show the deadly bird flu virus has been found in a village in Russia’s Far East, now under quarantine. Doctors fear villagers in Vozdvizhenka in the Primorsky region may have been exposed to the virus. Local authorities are sending more medi

They had belonged to a local, Anatoly Kirsanov, who believes the infection spread from dead wild geese and ducks which he’d bought.

“I woke up in the morning, looked inside my chicken coop, and saw all my chickens were lying around dead. It was absolutely unexpected,” he said.

Anatoly was instructed to kill and burn the remaining forty birds in his hen house.

Although no new cases of dead poultry have been reported, vets are visiting every house in the village to make sure fowl is isolated.

They are also disinfecting property and vaccinating fowl in nearby villages.

Police have set up roadblocks around the village and doctors are monitoring the health of residents who may have been exposed to the virus. At the moment no humans have been found affected by the respiratory diseases.

The quarantine will last for at least three weeks.

“The avian flu is dangerous to humans. Maybe, we’re too cautious but we just have to make sure no local residents are affected,” explained Anatoly Semyonov, Deputy Chief Inspector.

Meanwhile, Russia's Chief Medical Officer, Gennady Onishchenko, says health officials are poised for further outbreaks.

“This is the first incidence during the period in spring, when birds migrate from various regions around the world to the Russian territory. So we can say it’s only the beginning and we expect further outbreaks in Siberia, the Urals and in the European part of Russia. But we are prepared for this,” he stressed.

So far more than 150 people around the world have died from bird flu.

The disease is highly contagious for humans. The first deaths were reported in Hong Kong in 1997, where 6 people died. In 2003, bird flu became an international threat when thousands of birds throughout Eastern Asia were infected. Two years later the virus spread through Kazakhstan and Russia to Europe.