More Bird Flu Cases Found in Ukraine

Officials stated that five birds infected with the illness were found dead in Sevastopol, the regional capital of the Ukrainian peninsula. Ukrainian health authorities are urging the public to exercise caution to prevent the sickness from spreading. The regional quarantine remains in force.

Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov today also called on the government to adopt urgent efforts to prevent a bird flu pandemic.

"Birds will start migrating in about three months, which will put people at risk. We must take all necessary preventative measures," Yekhanurov told the Cabinet.

Yekhanurov also said that the issue must be discussed by the National Security and Defense Council and that the president must be informed of how matters stand.

The Ukrainian prime minister asked Health Minister Yuriy Polyachenko to inform the Cabinet about the situation in Crimea, amid "fears and speculation about vaccines and other consideration linked to the disease."

Polyachenko will also assess whether Russian, U.S. and other foreign assistance will be needed to deal with the bird flu situation in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, International donors, meeting in Beijing, pledged $1.9 billion for a global fund to combat bird flu, while Iraq tested a dead teenage girl for the virus. The funding promised at the end of an international conference was well in excess of an initial target set by the World Bank to raise at least $1.2 billion.

Of the $1.9 billion pledged, about $900 million would be in the form of loans, and the rest in grants. The United States pledged about $334 million, saying in a statement the money would be mainly in the form of grants and technical assistance. The total EU pledge is nearly $250 million.

Bird flu, H5N1, has been blamed for the deaths of some 75 people in East Asia since 2003. Four children died of the illness this month in Turkey, though none of the deaths was believed caused by human-to-human transmission.


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