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    Bird flu on the wane in southern Russia - minister

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    MOSCOW, April 17 (RIA Novosti) - The number of birds infected with avian flu in southern Russia has fallen, the agriculture minister said Monday.

    "The bird flu situation has now improved, and the number of quarantine zones has been sharply reduced," Alexei Gordeyev said.

    "Birds are being vaccinated in migration stopover areas for wild birds," and work to control the spread of the virus is continuing as usual, he said.

    The Agriculture Ministry says 14 towns and villages in four regions are still suffering bird-flu outbreaks. Six are in Krasnodar Territory, five in Daghestan, one in Stavropol Territory, and two in the Volgograd Region.

    The Emergency Situations Ministry said last Friday that around 1.1 million birds had died of the disease in Russia, and 0.3 million had been culled in measures to control the spread of the virus since the beginning of February.

    The lethal H5N1 strain of the virus returned to southern Russia in February, following outbreaks last year.

    No human cases of bird flu have yet been diagnosed in Russia.

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