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    Bird flu spreading in Central Russia - emergencies ministry

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    Recent cases of avian flu in dead poultry have been registered in the Russian capital and two adjacent regions, the emergencies ministry said Monday.

    MOSCOW, February 26 (RIA Novosti) - Recent cases of avian flu in dead poultry have been registered in the Russian capital and two adjacent regions, the emergencies ministry said Monday.

    "Since February 10, dead poultry have been found in Moscow, eight districts of the Moscow Region and a district in the Kaluga Region," the ministry said. "Traces of the deadly H5N1 virus have been confirmed at private farms at 10 locations in these areas."

    No cases of humans infected with the virus have been registered so far and emergency measures have been taken to stop the spread of the disease.

    "Overall, 2,146 birds have been culled," a ministry's spokesperson said.

    According to the World Health Organization, the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has infected at least 273 people from 11 countries and claimed 167 human lives since it first appeared in Asia in 2003. It has since spread worldwide, and scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form transmissible between humans, sparking a global pandemic.

    Russia recorded its first cases of avian flu in August 2005, but until now outbreaks have occurred only in southern provinces and in Siberia.

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