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Beware bird flu’s back: Russian watchdog warns of second wave of avian influenza

The Russian consumer watchdog recommended to get seasonal flu vaccinations in order to lower the risk of infection

MOSCOW, March 2. /TASS/. The Russian Federal Service for Surveillance on Consumer Rights Protection and Human Wellbeing has warned Russians of an ongoing second wave of avian flu that has been spreading globally since 2013, the watchdog said in a statement published on its website on Friday.

"According to data by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) as of January 25, 2018, the second panzootic wave has been observed since 2013. The situation is complicated because there is a high diversity of circulating subtypes, which complicates control and eradication. In January 2018, eight countries (Afghanistan, Cambodia, Taiwan, Iraq, Japan, South Korea, Saudi Arabia and South Africa) and two continents (Africa and Asia) were affected by outbreaks among domestic birds. The number of circulating subtypes reported in the currently ongoing second panzootic period is triple that of subtypes reported in the first wave (from 2005 to 2012) - 12 against 4," the document says.

According to the report, 120 mln birds died, all continents have been affected by the current panzootic, with 68 countries reporting at least one outbreak. "New and recurring strains of H5N1, H5N2 and H5N6 recently affected Asia, Europe and the Middle East and there are signs that the geographic distribution of the disease is continuing. Regarding health protection, the H7N9, H5N6 and H5N1 strains are the most dangerous to humans," they added.

Developing outbreaks were reported in Taiwan, and the current highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) situation was reported in China and in the Asian and African regions. Since late January, new avian influenza incidents have been reported in Afghanistan, Israel, Iran, Ireland, the Netherlands, Sweden, Ghana and Vietnam.

The Russian consumer watchdog recommended to get seasonal flu vaccinations in order to lower the risk of infection, avoid contact with poultry and non-poultry at farms, markets, surface waters and zoos, avoid visiting poultry farms and places of the poultry killing, as well as consuming raw eggs.