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HEALTH

H5N1 bird flu confirmed in Russia

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(CNN) -- The Russian Ministry of Agriculture says it has confirmed the presence of the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain in chickens in Russia.

"The presence of the antigen and genetic material of the H5N1 virus subtype has been established in several samples taken from sick birds," the ministry's press service said in a written statement.

The virus was found in tests carried out Tuesday on birds from the village of Yandovka, about 160 miles south of Moscow, the statement said.

The first cases of sickness among birds in Yandovka were registered last Friday.

Local officials plan to kill all 3,000 chickens on Yandovka farms, reimbursing the owners. Of the 493 on farms where the disease has been detected, 220 have died. The village has been quarantined.

As of Wednesday, two locations in Russia have been affected by the virus and 19 others are "under concern," the statement said.

The disease in Russia has been confined to animals, but health officials are concerned that it could mutate to a form that could be easily spread among people.

So far, it has been blamed for the deaths of 60 people in Asia.

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