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Police in southern Russia hunt anthrax-infected meat

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MOSCOW, May 22 (RIA Novosti) - Local police and agriculture inspectors in southern Russia are searching for itinerant gypsies who may have contracted anthrax when they bought contaminated meat from a local farm, authorities said Tuesday.

Investigators, who followed medical workers cleaning the farm of Apatovo in Stavropol Territory of an anthrax case that killed a local resident May 12, learned that the man who had killed an infected ox six days earlier sold part of its meat to gypsies.

"Any anthrax case is an emergency," Alexei Alexeienko of Rosselkhoznadzor, the inspectorate overseeing compliance with standards and official requirements in the agricultural sector, said.

Outbreaks of anthrax, a potentially fatal disease affecting animals and humans periodically occur on the rural steppes, part of which includes the Stavropol Territory neighboring Chechnya.

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