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H5N1 Bird-Flu Strain Detected In Crimea

Emergency Ministry workers culling birds in Ukraine this week (epa) 8 December 2005 -- Ukraine's health officials today said that preliminary findings show the bird-flu strain detected in the Crimean Peninsula is potentially dangerous to humans, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported.

State Institute of Biotechnology Deputy Director Vyacheslav German told reporters in Kyiv that the H5N1 strain had been located in several Crimean villages, where 2,500 birds recently died.

Petro Verbytskyy, who was dismissed this week as Ukraine's chief veterinarian, said the preliminary results were based on the conclusions of the Russian laboratory that is currently testing tissue from dead birds. Verbytskyy said he expected further tests to confirm those initial findings.

Verbytskyy also said authorities were checking whether the virus has not spread to other Ukrainian regions.

"Today in Crimea we're having farm-by-farm inspections," Verbytskyy said. "Poultry is being checked to ensure that the infection has not spread to other regions, to other poultry."

News reports today said new suspected bird-flu cases had been detected in Crimea.

President Viktor Yushchenko has declared a state of emergency in most affected areas.


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