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    Russia to develop wild bird vaccine

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    MOSCOW, September 25 (RIA Novosti) - Russia could develop a bird flu vaccine targeted at wild birds within two years, creating a revolution in the flight against the disease, the chief vet at Russia's food safety watchdog said Tuesday.

    "It will, speaking mildly, be a revolution, because no one has ever tried to control the spread of the flu virus among wild birds. And this is the source of all the trouble," Nikolai Vlasov said.

    Bird flu has never really disappeared from Russia since 2005, Vlasov told journalists, adding that, out of 100 birds who are culled around 2-80 will actually have been infected depending on the location.

    According to watchdog estimates, by the end of the year, the numbers of birds which will die from bird flu outbreaks in Russia will be four times lower than last year's figure.

    In 2005 1.3 million birds were culled in Russia, in 2006 the figure stood at 1.04 million, but this year the figure has dropped to around 260,000.

    September saw 22,000 birds culled following an outbreak in the Krasnodar region in south Russia, an area that migrating birds visit in winter, which makes the region susceptible all year to the menace.

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

    No human deaths from bird flu have been recorded in Russia.

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