(www.rian.ru) - Russia's chief health official Wednesday brushed aside fears that an outbreak of the deadly bird flu virus in the south of the country could pose a danger to people.
The country's agricultural watchdog said Monday that deaths of domestic fowl had been registered at three farmsteads in two regions of the Krasnodar Territory. Lab tests revealed the presence of the H5N1 strain of the bird flu virus.
"The situation is under control and is not a cause for concern," Gennady Onishchenko said.
The deadly strain of bird flu has claimed dozens of human lives since it first appeared in Asia in 2003, and it has since spread worldwide. Scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form transmissible between humans, sparking a global pandemic.
Onishchenko earlier said vaccinations against influenza reduced the risk of contracting the new disease by humans, reports Trend.
"As many as 20% of the people in these two regions have been inoculated [against influenza], which is higher than the average throughout Russia," the doctor said.
He also said the staff of all poultry farms in the regions had been given the necessary vaccines, and that the situation will be considered February 7 by a special panel chaired by First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
In 2006, an epidemic of the deadly virus broke out in five Siberian and 11 southern regions, resulting in the deaths and culling of about 1.5 million birds. No human fatalities have been reported in Russia so far.