Russian lab confirms deadly H5N1 bird flu strain in Ukraine

Russian laboratory has confirmed the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain in Ukraine, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported Friday. It quoted Sergei Dankvert, the chief of Russia's Federal Veterinary Service, as saying that a laboratory in the Russian city of Vladimir had confirmed the strain was "the so-called Asian strain H5N1 that poses a potential threat to" humans.

The veterinary service's press department could not immediately confirm the report, and the laboratory, the All-Russia Research Institute of Animal Protection, referred callers to the Agriculture Ministry in Moscow, which oversees the vet service.

Dankvert was speaking at an agricultural conference outside Moscow, ITAR-Tass reported.

Ukraine recorded its first case of bird flu Saturday, and immediately declared three regions under a state of emergency and quarantine. More than 35,000 domestic fowl were killed in a mandatory cull, and 1,504 villagers were put under medical observation, the Emergency Situations Ministry said.

The Ukrainian Health Ministry reported Friday that the H5 strain had been confirmed in nine villages, while dying birds were reported in a total of 16 villages and the city of Simferopol. The Agriculture Ministry said eight villages had confirmed cases. It was not immediately possible to explain the discrepancy, reports the AP. I.L.

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