15 August 2005 (RFE/RL) -- Russia's leading epidemiologist warned today that a bird flu outbreak in Siberia could spread through Russia's agricultural areas and reach areas in the Middle East and southern Europe.
Gennadii Onishchenko said in a letter to Russian health officials that an analysis of bird migratory patterns indicated the H5N1 virus could spread from western Siberia to the Caspian Sea and Black Sea areas.
Onishchenko warned that migrating birds could bring the virus to nearby countries such as Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Ukraine, and Mediterranean countries.
Onishchenko mentioned in his letter that outbreaks in these areas west of Siberia would start to be registered as autumn approaches and birds make their way toward warmer climates. Earlier today, Russian officials reported an outbreak in the Urals region of Chelyabinsk Oblast.