Kazakh Health Minister Yerbolat Dosayev on Monday confirmed the first case this year of the deadly H5N1 bird flu strain in his country, vowing to import and then develop vaccinations against the viral disease within two years.
The minister made the confirmation after an official from the country's Agriculture Ministry said a dead wild swan found in western Kazakhstan had tested positive for the H5N1 virus.
Dosayev told a press conference that the Caspian Sea region is facing an increasing risk of being hit by bird flu with the return of migrating birds in the spring.
He feared that the battle against the disease might be even more complicated as neighboring Azerbaijan had already reported the outbreak, which had killed three people and left more than 10 others hospitalized.
The Kazakh government has decided to launch a joint health campaign, starting in April, by the Emergency Situations Ministry, the Health Ministry and the Agriculture Ministry along the the Caspian coast region to prevent and contain the spread of bird flu, according to the minister.
One of the most effective measures is to introduce a large number of vaccinations from abroad, while the country develops its own against the disease within two years, he added.
It is the first case to be registered in Kazakhstan this year since thousands of poultry were culled when bird flu hit the country last July.
In a bid to protect its poultry stock, the country began vaccinating around 8 million domestic fowl in February, when authorities also staged a two-day drill for bird flu prevention and control.
The deadly virus has claimed some 100 lives worldwide since late 2003, mostly in Asia.