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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ukraine Bird Flu Outbreak Spreads

APA Ukrainian emergency ministry worker taking fowl from a farm Monday in Dmitrovka, where bird flu was found.
KIEV -- Ukraine's bird flu outbreak appeared to have escalated Monday as health officials reported new cases of domestic foul found dead in two cities and 19 villages on the Crimean peninsula.

The bird flu virus had been confirmed only in nine of the villages, said Irina Shakhno, spokeswoman for the Emergency Situations Ministry's Crimean office.

The Health Ministry said that reports were coming in about domestic birds found dead in 10 other villages, the regional capital, Simferopol, and another city, Feodosia. It was not immediately clear how many birds had died.

The Agriculture Ministry's Veterinary Department reported birds had been found dead in unusually high numbers in 17 locations as of Sunday, but did not explain the discrepancy between its figures and those of the Health Ministry.

A special laboratory was set up in Simferopol to test the new samples. If tests confirm the animals died of bird flu, it would mean a spread of the virus through Crimea beyond the marshlands near the Sea of Azov.

Ukraine announced its first case of bird flu on Dec. 4, revealing that some 2,500 domestic fowl had died suddenly in a marsh area on the Black Sea peninsula. Some 37,405 domestic fowl have been slaughtered as part of a mandatory cull.

Meanwhile, World Health Organization experts arrived to examine the situation and to assist in efforts to stop the infection's spread, the Health Ministry said. On Friday, a Russian laboratory said it had confirmed the virus was the same strain that decimated flocks in Asia, but Ukrainian officials said they were waiting for findings from a British laboratory.