Bird flu spread to more of Ukraine's regions

More regions in Ukraine's south could be affected with bird flu, the Emergency Situations Minister said Thursday. Viktor Baloga said the disease could spread from the Crimean peninsula to the Donetsk, Mykolaiv, Kherson and Zaporhizhia regions.

The virus has so far been identified in 11 Crimean villages and, according to health officials, birds were reported dying in another 14. Emergency workers have already culled more than 69,000 domestic fowl, the Interfax news agency reported. The virus strain in Crimea is H5N1, which can affect people, but no human infections have been recorded.

On Wednesday, Baloga and other government ministers asked President Viktor Yushchenko to end the state of emergency in Crimea imposed after the outbreak, arguing that quarantine measures were sufficient to contain the disease.

Also on Wednesday lawmakers warned Yushchenko that the state of emergency could hurt Ukraine's image and scare away tourists from Crimea, a popular Black Sea resort area, reports the AP. I.L.

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