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by Dave Gradijan

Four Asian Nations Confirm Bird Flu; Russia Predicts H5N1 Could Reach U.S. by Fall

Mar 16, 20062 mins
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On Thursday, the Asian nations of Afghanistan, India and Myanmar confirmed the presence of the deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu within their boundaries, and Malaysia reported two new cases, according to Reuters.

The confirmations came on the same day that Russia’s leading plant and animal health inspector, Sergei Dankvert, told Reuters via Yahoo News that he suspects H5N1 may reach the United States by the this fall. 

“We think that H5N1 will reach the United States in autumn,” Dankvert told Reuters.

Dankvert also warned that the virus is dangerously at risk of mutation on U.S. shores, after birds migrating from Siberia’s Tyumen region carry it to Alaska, Canada and other American states, according to Reuters.

“This is very realistic,” Dankvert told Reuters. “We may be almost certain this will happen after this strain is found in Great Britain, before autumn, as migrating birds carry it to the United States from here.”

India veterinary workers have already started slaughtering some 70,000 birds throughout the country in an attempt to slow the virus’ spread, and hundreds of people have also been treated, according to Reuters.

Bijay Kumar, animal husbandry commissioner for the Indian state of Maharahstra, told Reuters, “There is no time for niceties. The birds have to be killed as fast as possible.”

The deadly virus has rapidly spread across Europe, Africa and sections of Asia, decimating poultry stocks and killing some 100 people in Asia and the Middle East since 2003, according to Reuters.

Scientists fear the virus will mutate into a form more easily communicable by humans, sparking a global pandemic.

“Now the virus is becoming crazy,” Noureddin Mona, Beijing’s representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization, (FAO) told Reuters. “The virus is becoming unpredictable.”

Both Denmark and Sweden confirmed cases of avian flu on Wednesday, though it has yet to be determined whether those cases are of the H5N1 variety, according to Reuters.

For related coverage, read UN: Bird Flu Could Hit U.S. in Six Months and China Reports 10th Human Death Due to Bird Flu.

For related CSO content, read Researchers: Immunizations, Quarantines Would Stem Flu Pandemic and Planning for Pandemic.

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