Fowl slaughtered massively in Russia amid fears of bird flu spreading

Veterinary workers continued slaughtering thousands of fowl in Russia's remout Siberian and Urals regions amid fears that the bird flu epidemic had spread further to the European part of the country.

More than 13,000 birds have died from the H5N1 strain of the bird flu, which can fatally infect humans, and more than 112,000 have been slaughtered to prevent the spread of the disease, the Emergency Situations Ministry said on its Web site.

The epidemic, first registered in western Siberia in July, has been blamed on two kinds of wild birds migrating from South East Asia, ministry spokesman Sergei Vlasov said.

While the epidemic has already spread to the Ural Mountains, which separate the Asian and European parts of the country, fears grew Wednesday that birds in the southern region of Kalmykia could also be infected.

Russia's consumer rights watchdog said on its Web site that an owner of a small farm in Kalmykia had reported many deaths among domestic fowl there. Experts were investigating the incident.

Rossiya televisions showed footage from the Urals Chelyabinsk region of veterinary workers clad in long white robes, gloves and masks putting slaughtered fowl into black plastic sacks and into a metal container for incineration.

No cases of human infection have been found in Russia, the AP reported.

The country's public health chief warned this week in a letter to regional health officials that the virus could reach the Black Sea and Caspian Sea regions this autumn and speed through European Russia by the spring.

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