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Bird flu outbreak in Moscow region kills 150 chickens

Bird flu killed at least 150 chickens near Moscow last week, Russia's second outbreak of the lethal H5N1 strain of the virus this year.

Animal health officials confirmed the virus at poultry farms in five districts of the Moscow region in the seven days ended February 17, the Emergency Ministry said on its Web site today. The H5N1 strain killed birds in three villages in the southern Krasnodar region last month. About 180 emergency and health officials are working to contain the virus in the region that surrounds, though doesn't include, the Russian capital.
Results of tests at other farms will be known either today or tomorrow. Prosecutors are probing possible violations of sanitary standards at the infected farms, state-run news service RIA Novosti reported. „People shouldn't panic,” Nikolai Vlasov, an official from the Agriculture Ministry's sanitary inspectorate, said on state- run Russia Today television yesterday. „In the Russian winter, poultry birds stay indoors.”
All birds at poultry farms in the Moscow region will undergo mandatory vaccination starting today, Ekho Moskvy radio station reported yesterday. To date, no human fatalities have been recorded in Russia. Worldwide, a total of 167 people have died from the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, mostly in Asia, since December 2003 through February 16, 2007, according to the Geneva-based World Health Organization. (Bloomberg)