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    World Bank grants Uzbekistan $3 mln for bird flu prevention

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    TASHKENT, May 8 (RIA Novosti) - The World Bank has approved a $2.96 mln grant for Uzbekistan to help the Central Asian republic with bird flu prevention measures, the WB office in the Uzbek capital said Tuesday.

    Uzbekistan has not had any recorded outbreaks of the highly pathogenic avian influenza so far. However, bird flu cases have been reported in neighboring countries, including Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Russia, Iraq, India, and China, the World Bank said in a statement.

    "The risk to Uzbekistan of a bird flu outbreak remains significant due to migratory waterfowl patterns and/or the regional cross-border poultry trade," the World Bank said.

    According to the World Bank, most of the poultry in the country is kept by households and poultry production makes up a significant part of rural household income and food baskets.

    The government of Uzbekistan has drafted a national program of avian influenza prevention and control. Also, several international agencies are currently working with Uzbekistan to help the Central Asian republic address the bird flu threat, including FAO, UNICEF and WHO, the World Bank said.

    The avian influenza disease, originating in East Asia, has spread worldwide. Scientists fear the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus of bird flu could mutate into a form that passes easily between humans and spark a global pandemic.

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