- (AFP) -- Bird flu is posing a growing
challenge in Russia, the chief veterinarian said, noting that twice as
many farm fowl had been culled or died so far this year  compared
with all of 2005.
- "Last year  we lost 662 000
heads of poultry, which died or were slaughtered. This year (so far) the
figure is 1.3 million poultry," Sergei Dankvert told a press briefing
on the sidelines of a veterinarians' conference.
- "This year , the situation
is more difficult (and) will depend on steps taken in the regions,"
said Dankert, who heads the Russian Federal Veterinary Control Service.
- He said poultry needed to be protected
from contact with wild birds, which would reduce the risk of contamination
by 50 percent, and he urged further vaccinations.
- "Last year , the virus affected
62 towns in 10 Russian regions, while since the start of 2006, already
56 towns in 9 regions have been affected," he said.
- In 16 of the towns, infected birds have
been slaughtered, but the virus is still present in the other 40, Dankvert
- Farms were affected in the southern regions
of Stavropol, Krasnodar and Dagestan, where "health and veterinary
rules were not respected," he said.
- The virus had also penetrated factory
farming in Russia for the 1st time this year . Hitherto, it had been
found only in private holdings.
- The official said he did not foresee
problems over vaccines this year . "We are not talking of general
vaccination but vaccination in particularly endangered regions," he
- "The panic has been so great that
the number of requests for vaccines to be sent to regions has begun to
grow in geometric progression," Dankvert added.
- 32 million vaccine [doses] would be produced
in Russia by the end of this month [March 2006], 42 million in April 2006
and 70 million in May 2006 with the aim of a production peak of 1.2 billion
annually, he noted.
- Demand on the Russian poultry market
dropped by 20-25 percent between last November  and this month [March
2006] because of the bird flu scare, Galina Bobyleva, head of the poultry
producers' union, was quoted by the Ria Novosti agency as saying.