Russian agriculture minister says bird flu stabilizing despite of report about new case

Russia's agriculture minister said Wednesday that the situation with bird flu, which swept parts of Siberia during the summer, has stabilized even as authorities reported a new case in southern Siberia.

Avian flu, blamed on wild migratory birds from Southeast Asia, was first detected in a Siberian region in July and has since spread to at least five other provinces. The H5N1 strain of the flu can be lethal to humans, but no human cases have been registered in Russia.

Agriculture Minister Alexei Gordeyev told a news conference that the bird flu situation was under control, but said preventive measures were still needed. The Agriculture Ministry said the number of towns and villages affected by the outbreak have fallen from 50 to seven. Investigators are conducting tests in 19 other settlements suspected to have the bird flu cases.

The latest outbreak was recorded in the Kurgan region in southern Siberia, said Lyubov Voropayeva, a spokeswoman for Russia's epidemiological service. The outbreak at the Utyatskaya farm in the Kurgan region was the first to be recorded in the region, located just east of the Ural Mountains.

More than one-fifth of the farm's 460,000 birds have died and authorities will likely slaughter the rest, Voropoayeva told The Associated Press. She said the farm stopped sales on Sept. 28 when the first birds died. AM

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