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    Journalist hospitalized in Siberia with suspected bird flu

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    NOVOSIBIRSK, August 15 (RIA Novosti, Maksim Koshmarchuk) - Tests are being conducted to ascertain if a journalist hospitalized on August 12 has contracted bird flu, a health official in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk said Monday.

    Maria Pashkova, a correspondent of the Novosibirsk state TV and radio company, was hospitalized days after returning from an assignment to areas in the region affected by an outbreak of bird flu. She felt ill upon her return home, and was admitted to hospital with a high temperature and headaches.

    Pashkova is the fifth person to have been hospitalized with suspected bird flu, although tests failed to confirm that the other patients had contracted the disease. The journalist's results will be known later this week.

    A regional health department official did not rule out the bird flu virus that had affected in the region could mutate and become dangerous for people. Sergei Pavlenko said that although humans could not contract the bird flu virus, the potential danger that the strain could mutate could not be ruled out.

    According to the official, nobody has contracted bird flu in the Novosibirk region. Pavlenko also said quarantine measures had been imposed in 14 areas hit by the outbreak and doctors were making house calls every day in a bid to preclude any danger to the local population.

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