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    Russia ready to assist Egypt in fight against bird flu

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    Russia's food safety watchdog said Wednesday it was ready to help Egypt fight the spread of a deadly bird flu virus, including supplying the country with a vaccine developed in Russia.

    MOSCOW, July 4 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's food safety watchdog said Wednesday it was ready to help Egypt fight the spread of a deadly bird flu virus, including supplying the country with a vaccine developed in Russia.

    Egypt is among the countries worst affected by the H5N1 strain, with 37 human cases registered there so far. Fifteen of those infected have died, most of them women and children who had direct contact with farm poultry.

    "We are prepared to hold consultations [on measures against bird flu] and send our best experts to Egypt," Sergei Dankvert, head of the Rosselkhoznadzor agency, said after a meeting with Egyptian agriculture officials in Moscow.

    "We could also provide [Egypt] with samples of a vaccine against bird flu for testing," he said, adding that the vaccine proved to be very effective in Russia.

    Last year, the virus killed 1.3 million birds in 10 regions of the Southern and five of the Siberian Federal Districts in Russia. From January to February of this year, outbreaks were detected in 16 cities and villages in five regions, but no human cases have been registered in the country so far.

    Russia's veterinary authorities earlier said 75 laboratories across the nation had been upgraded to fight bird flu and the country had sufficient supplies of bird flu vaccine to inoculate up to 130 million birds in case of emergency.

    Since late 2003, when the virus first hit Asia, the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza has killed at least 191 people out of 317 known cases worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

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