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EU Extends Ban On Bird Imports From Most Of Russia

First reports of the virus came from Siberia (AFP) 20 October 2005 -- The European Union says it has extended a ban on the import of pet birds and feathers to include most of Russia.

EU Commission spokeswoman Ahrenkilde Hansen explained the ban.

"That committee [the European Commission's Food Chain and Animal Health Committee] this morning has endorsed the ban on imports of pet birds and feathers from Siberia to cover the whole territory of Russia with the exception of Kaliningrad, Leningrad [Oblast], Karelia, Murmansk, and St. Petersburg," Hansen said.

The move comes as Russian emergency workers are killing domestic and wild birds in the village of Yandovka, where agriculture officials have confirmed the presence of the H5N1 strain of bird flu responsible for more than 60 deaths in Asia. Yandovka has the first confirmed case of H5N1 west of the Ural Mountains, in European Russia.

Also today, EU health ministers are gathering in London for a two-day meeting that will focus in part on preventing the spread of the virus across the continent. H5N1 has been detected in Turkey and Romania, and suspected cases have been reported in Greece.

The World Health Organization today expressed concern about China, where officials yesterday reported its first bird flu outbreak in more than two months.

Thailand today reported its 13th human death from bird flu.

(News agencies)