17 January 2006 (RFE/RL) -- Kazakhstan is warning that migratory birds could bring more outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu to the country this spring.
Kenes Ospanov, a top physician at the Health Ministry, said today the country has equipped labs to conduct preliminary tests of any reported human cases of avian influenza within hours.
"In our labs we have diagnostic equipment which allow us to conduct checkups -- 300-350 people per day. We bought them with the help of American companies. If need be -- God protect us -- we are able to clarify the bird-flu situation within three hours," Ospanov said.
An outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain in July killed hundreds of geese in the north of Kazakhstan.
World Health Organization official Bernardos Ganter told RFE/RL that migrating birds could spread the virus to other Central Asian nations.
Nearly 80 people have died from bird flu in East Asia and Turkey since 2003. Most human cases have been traced to contact with infected birds.
(RFE/RL's Kazakh and Uzbek services, AP)