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Five hundred chickens die of bird flu in south Russia

About 500 chickens in the south Russia’s Krasnodar Territory have died of bird flu, a local official said Tuesday.

The outbreak was detected at a poultry farm in the town of Razdolny Sunday. A spokesman for the territorial veterinary service said a regional laboratory has identified the lethal H5N1 virus in the dead birds, and that measures are being taken to contain the spread. “The decision has been made to destroy 22,000 birds at a farm where chickens died over the weekend,” he said. He did not say how many birds were on the farm in total. Tests are ongoing, and may take up to seven days to produce conclusive results. A local prosecutor said criminal charges might be pressed against the farm’s managers.

The Russian Ministry for Emergency Situations warned last month of a danger of bird flu outbreaks in the Chelyabinsk Region, in the south Urals. According to the World Health Organization, bird flu has killed 192 people around the world since late 2003. Indonesia has been the worst hit by human bird flu cases, and has the highest mortality rate from infections with the deadly H5N1 viral strain, at about 80%. The virus has spread rapidly in the country, which has the world’s fourth-largest population. The second hardest-hit country is Vietnam, where 95 human bird flu cases have been registered, with 42 deaths. (