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Yushchenko: Vaccines Ready After Bird Flu Outbreak

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko speaks today with inhabitants of Nekrasovka, Crimea (epa) 5 December 2005 -- Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko today told residents of Crimean villages hit by an outbreak of avian flu that the country has sufficient stocks of vaccinations to prevent a human epidemic.

"Today, the issue is absolutely under control. The birds are being destroyed and by 12 December all residents, first of all children, will be vaccinated. Therefore, we can say that Ukraine has dealt with this problem in a very organized way," Yushchenko said.

Yushchenko was touring the region following the imposition during the weekend of emergency measures following the death of more than 1,600 domestic fowl.

The birds died after exposure to an H5-type bird flu virus. Researchers in Britain and Italy are studying samples of the strain to see if it is the H5N1 virus responsible for the deaths during the past two years of more than 70 people in Asia.

Yushchenko said today he will fire the country's chief veterinary inspector, Petro Verbytskii, for failing to inform authorities sooner about the outbreak.

Russia and Belarus have both put a temporary ban on the import of Ukrainian poultry products.


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