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Anthrax outbreaks possible in Russia's Yamal if vaccination not completed

August 18, 21:40 UTC+3 KURSK
The area of the anthrax hotbed in Yamal totals 1,600 square kilometers
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© Kirill Kukhmar/TASS

KURSK, August 18. /TASS/. New outbreaks of anthrax are possible in Russia’s Far Northern Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District should high-quality vaccination not be completed until the start of the cold season and reindeer relocation to the south, Russia’s chief veterinary physician Nikolai Vlasov said Thursday.

"Whether there will be massive outbreaks or not will be defined by when and with which quality vaccination of reindeer in that zone will be conducted. If they manage to do that until the relocation to the south, everything will be good," Vlasov said.

He said the area of the anthrax hotbed in Yamal totals 1,600 square kilometers. The virus has been present here for centuries, and the region may only hope for vaccination, which it gave up seven years ago - the cause of the current situation.

The Central Military District’s press service told TASS August 16 that specialists from the Radiation, Chemical and Biological Protection (RCBP) Troops have wrapped up an operation to deal with the cleanup of an anthrax outbreak in the Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District.

The press service said that in less than three weeks, chemical protection specialists have detected and burned remains of 2,572 animals who succumbed to the dangerous infection. It said the operation was launched on July 29. Specialists disinfected more than 225 square kilometers of contaminated areas and earth probes confirm there is no infection in the disease’s breeding ground, or nidus.

Autonomous district Governor Dmitry Kobylkin has expressed gratitude to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, RCBP Troops Commander Eduard Cherkasov, the Commander of Central Military District troops, Vladimir Zarudnitsky and General Vitaly Vassilyev who led the operation.

Authorities imposed quarantine measures in the region on July 25 to halt the anthrax outbreak which had infected some 2,300 reindeer. According to the local administration, the cause of the epidemic was the extreme warm weather spell affecting Russia’s Far North.

An unusual heat wave, calling off mandatory reindeer vaccination and lack of experience among a younger generation of nomads led to the anthrax outbreak in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District, Governor Dmitry Kobylkin told reporters earlier.

After the outbreak, Kobylkin decided to introduce mandatory vaccination of all regional reindeers - over 700,000. This year, some 400,000 head are expected to be vaccinated against anthrax.

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