H5N1 Moves Closer
To Europe By The Day

From Patricia Doyle, PhD
Please check out the map at the URL provided below. The map does show the progress of H5N1 from Asia into Russia and approaching Europe.
(Pro Med Mail - As the H5N1 avian influenza virus has spread thoughout Asia, our posts on non-humans have spread to different threads for different geographical areas and different avian species. In order to simplify the threads we are starting a new unifying thread, "Avian influenza - Asia", which will encompass much of what before had been in an ever increasing number of threads. - Mod.DK)
Russia Says Dangerous Bird Flu Outbreak Spreads
By Guy Faulconbridge
(Reuters) -- Russia said on Tuesday (8-16-5] an outbreak of bird flu in Chelyabinsk was dangerous to humans, as teams of sanitary workers destroyed birds [domestic? wild? - see comment] in Siberia in an attempt to prevent the westward spread of the deadly virus.
The H5N1 strain of bird flu is behind the outbreak in Chelyabinsk, a city in the Ural mountains, the Emergencies Ministry said in a statement.
It said no cases among humans have been confirmed in Russia.
"Measures are being taken to prevent the spreading of the infection among domestic birds and to exclude the possibility of the infection moving to humans," the statement added. Russia is battling to contain a bird flu outbreak, which top health officials say has killed more than 11 000 birds countrywide and could spread westwards to Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
The outbreak was discovered in mid-July 2005 in Novosibirsk and has spread through Tyumen, Omsk, Kurgan, Altai and now Chelyabinsk, which is about 1000 km (600 miles) from Novosibirsk.
Senior agricultural officials believe the flu was brought by migrating birds from Asia, where more than 50 people have died from the deadly H5N1 strain since 2003.
Officials fear that the virus could spread to Europe and Africa as tens of millions of birds continue their migration to warmer climates from next month ahead of Russia's harsh winter.
Chelyabinsk lies in the Ural mountains, the geographic divide between Asia and Europe. Russia's top state epidemiologist, Gennady Onishchenko, said migratory birds move on to warmer areas in southern Russia, Africa and Europe in the autumn after nesting in Siberia.
But the diversity of Siberia's bird species makes plotting the flight paths of the birds difficult, specialists in Moscow said.
"There are about 800 different species of birds in Russia and so there are many different migration flows which criss-cross Russian territory," said Dr. Pavel Tomkovich, a senior ornithologist at Moscow's Zoological Museum.
He said water fowl will leave to winter in warmer climates, flying through Russia's southern regions, northern Kazakhstan, the Caspian and Black seas towards the Mediterranean and north Africa. That would/could take infected birds through Russia's agricultural heartland in the south.
Health officials were meeting in Moscow on Tuesday to discuss the situation, the state's consumer watchdog said.
In parts of Chelyabinsk, barriers were placed on roads and local officials imposed a ban on the sale of all poultry products, the Itar-Tass news agency reported. Farmers are being compensated for birds which were being destroyed, the agency said.
Bird flu comes in different stains, such as H5 and H7, which have 9 different subtypes. The H5N1 subtype is highly pathogenic and can be passed from birds to humans, though there have been no cases of human-to-human transmission.
Additional reporting by Maria Kiselyova
Avian Flu Spreads Westward In Russia
Avian influenza has cropped up in chickens near Russia's Ural Mountains, possibly signaling a continued westward march of the deadly H5N1 virus, news services in Russia reported today.
The Chelyabinsk region along the southern end of the Urals is the 6th area in Russia to have been hit by avian flu outbreaks recently, according to Agence France-Presse (AFP) and Reuters. The Urals separate Siberia from European Russia.
A regional official said 60 chickens in the village of Oktyabrskoye died over the weekend, according to an online report by The report said testing had detected an H5N1 virus in the dead birds. However, the AFP and Reuters reports said it was not yet known if the virus was H5N1.
Other parts of southwestern Siberia that have reported recent outbreaks of avian flu include Novosibirsk, Altai, Omsk, Tyumen, and Kurgan, all to the east of Chelyabinsk, according to AFP. But the H5N1 strain has been identified only in the Novosibirsk, Altai, and Omsk outbreaks, the report said.
The Siberian outbreaks have killed 10 896 wild and domestic birds, according to an RIA Novosti news agency report quoted by AFP. Hundreds of thousands of birds have been culled since the 1st in the series of Russian outbreaks was reported in Novosibirsk on 21 Jul 2005, according to No human cases have been reported.
Russia's top government epidemiologist, Gennady Onischenko, warned that migrating birds could spread avian flu to Russia's major agricultural region and on to the Middle East and Mediterranean Sea this fall.
"An analysis of bird migration routes has shown that the contagious A (H5N1) virus may spread from western Siberia to the Caspian and Black Sea areas this fall," said Onischenko, as quoted by an RIA Novosti report today. "Some birds nesting in the affected regions (the Novosibirsk and Altai territory) migrate to the above-mentioned areas for winter or stop there on their way to Africa or Europe."
He added that bird migration routes run through Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, Georgia, Ukraine, and Mediterranean countries, raising a risk of outbreaks there as well, according to the story. Onischenko made the statements in a letter to regional directors of the Federal Service for the Oversight of Consumer Protection and Welfare.
Russia's Agriculture Ministry said all sick and infected birds in Chelyabinsk were being destroyed, and Russian media reported that roads leading to the affected village were cordoned off in an effort to contain the outbreak, according to Reuters.
A Russian agricultural official said the Chelyabinsk outbreak is near a lake that borders the Kurgan region and Kazakhstan, where other avian flu outbreaks have been reported recently, according to the report.
Meanwhile, a Russian journalist named Maria Pashkova, who was hospitalized after visiting an area affected by avian flu, has been tested for the illness, according to an RIA Novosti report today. Results of the test are expected later this week. reported that Pashkova had already recovered from her illness. 4 other Russians were hospitalized with suspected avian flu recently, but all 4 tested negative, the RIA Novosti story said.
In the absence of an official OIE update since 5 Aug 2005, it is not clear what measures are currently being undertaken by the Russian authorities to control the disease within the 5 regions (oblasts) situated west of the 1st affected region, Novosibirsk, and to prevent its further spread. It would also help to know if virological/serological surveillance in wildfowl is being undertaken. - Mod.AS
Patricia A. Doyle, PhD
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