Russian officials have traced dead domestic poultry in several districts of suburban Moscow to a single market.
As precautionary measures, they have tightened quarantines following confirmation of the presence of the H5N1 bird flu strain. This is the first such outbreak to be recorded so close to the Russian capital.
Four separate incidences of domestic poultry dying have involved birds that were purchased at a market located just outside the Moscow city limits. The market has since closed and experts are trying to.
According to Russian Agriculture Ministry spokesman, Alexei Alexeyenko, tests have confirmed the H5N1 strain in poultry found dead in two districts. Results of tests taken in a third district where nearly four dozen birds died are still pending.
Russian news agencies have also reported a fifth incident of birds dying in the southwestern Naro-Fominsk district.
Officials have given it that several people who were in close contact the dead poultry have been taken in for medical observation, but no health problems had been reported.
Says Nikolai Vlasov, a senior veterinary official:" If traces of the virus appear at the poultry market, we cannot exclude the possibility that there will be new outbreaks. But there should be no panic because conditions in Russia, especially in the winter, mean that there is not even any theoretical possibility of human infection."
No human cases of bird flu have been reported in Russia, which had its first reported cases of the H5N1 strain in Siberia in 2005. Outbreaks have since occurred farther west, but mostly in southern areas distant from the capital.
The country's first outbreak this year was registered last month in the Krasnodar territory, an agricultural region near the Black Sea.
The H5N1 strain has killed at least 167 people worldwide since it began ravaging Asian poultry farms in late 2003, according to the World Health Organization.
Though it remains difficult for humans to catch, health authorities across the globe are monitoring the H5N1 strain out of concern it could mutate into a form that easily spreads from person to person and spark a pandemic.