November 23, 2013 at 12:02 am #1097MikeKeymaster
Twelve more swans die from bird flu in Astrakhan region
ROSTOV ON DON, December 17 (Itar-Tass) — The number of poultry
killed by bird flu in Russia’s southern Astrakhan region continues
Search teams have found 12 more dead swans in the Kamyzyak district
over the past 24 hours, thus bringing the total death toll to 560.
All of the dead birds have been cremated, the Southern Regional
Centre of the Emergencies Ministry told Itar-Tass on Saturday.
The first swan deaths were reported in the region on November 17.
Analyses confirmed that the deaths had been caused by avian flu.
According to the regional branch of the Emergencies Ministry, “A
colossal number of birds are amassing in the Volga delta, including
more than 15,000 migrant grey swans. A team of specialists has been
sent to the place of the latest swan deaths. No deaths among wild
birds and domestic fowl from avian flu have been registered in the
Volga delta. And no people have got sick.”
No deaths among the domestic poultry have been reported so far, the
press service of the regional branch of the Emergencies Ministry
Russia’s chief sanitary doctor Gennady Onishchenko warned that
Russia should get ready for a larger incidence of bird flu next
However Astrakhan officials believe the death might have other
causes than bird flu, even though veterinary authorities have
confirmed its presence in the birds’ blood.
“All the dead and sick birds are swans only, born last spring,” the
region’s chief veterinary doctor Alexander Vasilyev said. “It’s not
characteristic of the virus that has been detected in the
laboratory. Traditionally it is found in ducks and geese. But other
waterfowl in the delta of the Volga are not sick.”
Authorities have imposed quarantine in the section of the Volga
delta where the mass death of swans occurred, as well as within a 30-
kilometre radius from it. Measures are being taken to prevent the
disease from spreading.
The Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitary Control has
officially confirmed bird flu as the cause of swan deaths in the
The Astrakhan regional emergency situations commission has banned
waterfowl hunting this fall and winter.
Villages in the Volga delta are under quarantine, and domestic birds
stay indoors. Access to regional poultry farms is now limited for
safety reasons. Local farmers get instructions as to what to do in
case new fowl deaths or signs of infection are registered. Police
check vehicles to prevent unsanctioned poultry exports to other
regions of the country.
The Astrakhan veterinarian service said swan deaths had started near
the Astrakhan Nature Park a week before. The Astrakhan regional
chief veterinarian said that plenty of birds had amassed in the
Volga delta. “Only swans born in spring have died. They might have
been weakened by the long voyage,” he said. The situation is being
controlled, and blood samples of waterfowl are being taken.
There have been no deaths from bird flu among humans in the Volga
Over 1,000 specialists from veterinary services, the Ministry for
Emergency Situations, and law enforcement agencies have been to the
Volga delta, Astakhan region Governor Alexander Zhilkin said.
According to the governor, their task “is to prevent direct contacts
between humans and infected fowl, as well as to take preventive
measures, carry out explanatory work among the population, and
prevent poaching and fowl hunting”.
In the neighbouring republic of Kalmykia, 150 dead swans have been
found. Their blood samples have been sent to Vladimir for
examination. Previous analyses done in Pyatigorsk did not confirm
A ban on waterfowl hunting has been imposed in the area. Authorities
have created a special group that is examining the Caspian coast for
other possible dead or sick birds.
Authorities have declared red alert in connection with a possible
state of emergency.
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