MOSCOW, Feb. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- Tests confirmed the presence of the bird flu virus in poultry in a southern Russian region, health officials said on Wednesday, reporting the first case since the country declared itself free of avian influenza at the end of last year.
Laboratory tests confirmed birds that have died over the past few days at a poultry farm in the village of Shamkhal near Makhachkala, regional capital of Dagestan, had been infected with the H5N1 strain of the virus carried by wild birds, Nikolai Vlasov,an official of the Federal Veterinary and Phytosanitary Control Service, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.
Vlasov said the strain found is not dangerous to humans. "Only birds can be infected. There is no bird flu strain that can be transmitted to humans in Dagestan," he said.
Russian officials declared the country free of bird flu in fowl in December after several months of combating the virus in several regions in Siberia and western Russia. No humans were infected by the virus.
The H5N1 virus has killed tens of millions of birds worldwide since 2003. A total of 165 people have been confirmed to be infected with the virus and at least 88 of them have died, mostly in Asia, according to the World Health Organization. Enditem