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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Urges Bird Flu Measures

President Vladimir Putin called on Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov on Tuesday to develop a plan to prevent bird flu in Russia, and the country's chief epidemiologist announced heightened inspections on its southern border and of people arriving from Turkey.

The announcements followed the deaths last week of two siblings in Turkey from the H5N1 strain of bird flu -- the first confirmed cases of human deaths from H5N1 outside eastern Asia. Russia has registered outbreaks of H5N1 in fowl in several regions, but no human cases have been reported.

"We must do everything possible in order not to allow this problem to emerge here," Putin said at a meeting of top government officials, according to televised remarks.

Putin asked Fradkov to come up with a plan of preventative action, calling for measures to be taken at markets and borders, Itar-Tass reported.

Many of Russia's neighbors -- China, Turkey, Ukraine and Romania -- have seen outbreaks of the potentially deadly disease, Putin noted.

Ukrainian health officials said Tuesday they have confirmed another outbreak of bird flu at three poultry farms on the Crimean Peninsula.

Chief epidemiologist Gennady Onishchenko called for officials on Russia's southern borders to check for signs of respiratory illness among people entering the country, particularly from Turkey or via Turkey from a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.

A scientist, meanwhile, said Russia was preparing to test a vaccine against bird flu.

Anatoly Vorobyov of the Sechenov Medical Academy, where the vaccine was developed, said Tuesday that tests on volunteers were to begin soon. It was not clear how long those tests would take, or how long it would take to manufacture the vaccine in large quantities if it were deemed effective and safe.