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Bird flu hits Russia hard - paper

MOSCOW, August 12 (RIA Novosti) - Bird flu is spreading in Russia at a tremendous rate and Siberian farmers have been reduced to hiding chickens from veterinaries in forests, a leading business daily reported Friday.

Vedomosti wrote that the largest poultry holdings were not afraid for their businesses yet, but added that experts were certain that the virus had settled in Russia for a long time.

Since it appeared in July in the Novosibirsk region (Western Siberia), bird flu has spread to four other regions: the Altai Territory, and the Omsk, Tyumen and the Kurgan regions. The number of animals killed by bird flu doubled in the country on Wednesday and Thursday.

Investors were prepared for the spread of bird flu in Russia, Dmitry Pankratov, the executive director of the Prodo group, said. His concern owns the biggest poultry factories in the Omsk and Tyumen regions. He said hygienic measures would be able to stop the epidemic.

Albert Davleyev, a representative of the United States Poultry and Egg Export Council (Uspeec), said major producers could still protect themselves from bird flu. He added that the possibility that poultry factories might become infected had increased, as the virus could reach enterprises via vehicles making deliveries.

Dmitry Rylko, the director of the Current Agrarian Market Situation Institute, said it was time to introduce bans on the interregional poultry trade. He said he was convinced that "ordinary formal and bureaucratic measures" could not stop the virus.

A poultry factory representative said Siberian farmers did not want to part with their poultry. "They are hiding birds from vets in the forests, and are organizing improvised poultry-yards where the flu virus may remain for a long time," he said.

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