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    BIRD FLU CAN BRING THE WORLD TO THE VERGE OF AN EPIDEMIC CATASTROPHE, A RUSSIAN SCIENTIST BELIEVES

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    MOSCOW, February 9, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - Bird flu can bring the world to the verge of an epidemic catastrophe, Russian scientists believes. If the viruses of bird flu and of the influenza usual for humans find themselves in one organism, they may mutate into a "monster" capable of causing pandemic," director of the Institute of Virology of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences Dmitry Lvov said on Monday.

    In the opinion of the academician, the probability of the appearance of such a monster virus is rather high.

    According to Dmitry Lvov, both birds and humans can catch this flu through fodder and food, water and excrements. The scientist fully excludes the possibility of man being infected via eating poultry.

    At the present time the Moscow Institute of Virology is studying the weakly pathogenic strains of the virus which was taken from wild birds, the academician said. This material can be used for producing a vaccine to combat highly pathogenic viruses which are now spread in South East Asia.

    Eighty people in Vietnam and Thailand died of bird flu of late.

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