Russian poultry farms suffer more losses as bird flu spreads

An outbreak of bird flu is spreading in Russia's Siberian regions, with a loss of 368 domestic poultry and wild birds being reported in the Omsk and Kurgan regions over the past 24 hours.

In total, 8,347 domestic poultry and wild birds have died, infected by the highly pathogenic A H5N1 strain carried by migrating birds, in the Novosibirsk and Omsk regions and Altai, and in the Tyumen and Kurgan regions of the Volga-Urals area, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry reported.

The A H5N1 strain is potentially dangerous to humans, but as yet no bird flu cases have been diagnosed in humans, reports Interfax.

According to Mosnews, the region lies across the Russian border from an area where Russian officials earlier reported an outbreak of H5N1 bird flu, a strain that has killed more than 50 people in Asia since 2003.

The Kazakh and Russian outbreaks, which have so far only killed wildfowl and poultry, had sparked fears the disease could spread to humans on the Eurasian landmass and be spread further to Europe and possibly the United States by migrating birds.

But the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Tuesday it believed the Russian outbreak was subsiding and should disappear by late August.

The Kazakh farm ministry also sought to play down fears of a growing problem. Kazakhstan, a sprawling ex-Soviet state in Central Asia, is the size of Western Europe but has a population of just 15 million people.

In Siberia's Novosibirsk region, officials found the virus in another village, Novorozino, taking the total number of infected areas there to 14, Interfax news agency reported.

"Domestic birds in that village will be ... killed," Interfax quoted a regional administration official as saying. About 35,000 birds have been killed in the Novosibirsk region to prevent the deadly virus from spreading further.

The total number of bird deaths since the epidemic hit Siberia in mid-July rose to 8,347 on Wednesday, the Emergencies Ministry said. The number on Tuesday was just over 5,580.

"There have been no cases of people getting ill," the ministry said in a note, informs Reuters.

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