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    AVIAN INFLUENZA DOES NOT THREATEN RUSSIA

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    MOSCOW, January 24, 2004. /RIA Novosti/. Avian influenza, also known as "bird flu", does not threaten Russia, Tamara Frolochkina, a top specialist of the State Sanitary Epidemiology Service, told RIA Novosti.

    According to her, this viral disease, which appeared in South-East Asia and already killed some people, does not threaten to spread to other regions.

    Referring to the latest data of the World Health Organization, Frolochkina said that Avian influenza cannot be transmitted between human beings. "We don't see the real threat of the transmission of this virus to people and its spreading," the top specialist said.

    Three research institutions are involved in this problem in Russia, in particular, the Influenza Institute in St. Petersburg and the Ivanovsky Virology Institute in Moscow, Frolochkina noted.

    "This virus has not adapted to humans yet, however, it can infect people," Svetlana Yamnikova, the head of the laboratory of influenza ecology of the Ivanovsky Virology Institute, told RIA Novosti.

    "If the Avian influenza adapts to humans, it would be the greater tragedy than the Spanish influenza pandemic because nobody has immunity from this virus," Yamnikova said.

    According to her, "this situation cannot be ruled out, however, we cannot exactly predict when it happens".

    The World Health Organization and veterinary services all over the world control the Avian influenza situation, Yamnikova reported.

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