H5N1 bird flu confirmed in Azerbaijan

The Health Ministry today said a London laboratory had confirmed the presence of H5N1 avian flu in dead birds from Azerbaijan’s Caspian Sea coast.

Private television channels urged viewers not to prepare poultry dishes and broadcast descriptions of bird flu symptoms, while the Health and Agriculture Ministries appealed to people to avoid contact with foul and to isolate domestic poultry from wild birds.

Part of Azerbaijan shares a short border with eastern Turkey, where four children died after becoming infected with the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.

The first case of mass deaths among birds was registered in the autumn in the Nakhichivan region, bordering on Turkey.

More deaths occurred in December and January, but health authorities insisted that the birds had been infected with avian flu and said there was no cause for concern.

Still, at the urging of the US government, Azerbaijan sent samples from dead birds to the British laboratory for additional tests, said the former Soviet republic’s chief epidemiologist, Viktor Kasumov.

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