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Bird Flu Virus Spreads in Russia

More than 10,000 domestic and wild birds have reportedly died as a result of a recent outbreak of bird flu in Russia. Neighboring Kazakhstan has also since confirmed an outbreak of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus that can be spread to humans.

The number of birds dying from the flu virus in Russia has risen dramatically over the past 48 hours, but there are still no known cases of the disease spreading to humans.

Russia's Interfax news agency Thursday quotes an official at the Emergency Situations Ministry as saying the total number of birds that have died since the outbreak was first recorded in late July has jumped to 10,170.

Officials from various Russian ministries and departments are working in the affected areas of Siberia. Outbreaks have also been reported in Omsk and Kurgan, in central Russia.

This local woman in Omsk told Russian television the effects of the disease have been devastating on her flock.

The woman says her birds were completely blinded by the virus before dying.

Villagers in Kazakhstan, which shares a long border with Siberia, are confronting similar problems.

Kazakhstan's agricultural ministry has now confirmed that the virus found in birds near northern Kazakhstan's Pavlodar region and three other villages is of the same strain that can be transmitted to humans. But the ministry sought to play down the development, saying in a press release that the nation's poultry farms have not been affected.

Officials with the World Health Organization have said they expect the Russian outbreak to subside by the end of this month. But there has been no such projection for Kazakhstan, where the virus is just starting to take hold.

Meanwhile, the European Union has called for member states to ban imports of feathers and live birds from both Russia and Kazakhstan.

An outbreak of this same type of bird flu earlier in Southeast Asia killed more than 60 people.