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Russia's sanitary chief advises Russians against visiting Mexico


MOSCOW, April 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's chief sanitary official on Sunday advised Russian citizens against visiting Mexico, hit by an outbreak of swine flu that killed several dozen people.

Gennady Onishchenko said in an interview with Vesti-24 TV channel that although the disease was not fatal in the case of timely diagnostics and quality medical treatment, he would not recommend Russians to visit Mexico.

Mexican authorities have officially confirmed the death of 20 people from swine flu and another 48 cases still need to be confirmed.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Sunday set up a government commission to prevent the spread of swine flu in the country.

"The commission has started to work and specific measures are under way to prevent the penetration of swine flu into Russia and the possibility of its spread," Dmitry Peskov, the government's press secretary, said.

Margaret Chan, director-general of the World Health Organization, earlier said that the outbreak of the swine flu virus in Mexico has the potential of a pandemic.

According to the World Health Organization, swine influenza or swine flu is a highly contagious respiratory disease of pigs caused by one of several swine influenza viruses. Pigs can also be infected with avian influenza viruses and human seasonal influenza viruses.

Although swine flu viruses are normally species specific and infect only pigs, they sometimes cause disease in humans.

Oleg Kiselyov, director of the flu institute in St. Petersburg, said that humans so far had no immunity to the virus that had struck over a thousand people in Mexico.

Meanwhile, Nikolai Vlasov, deputy head of Russia's agricultural watchdog Rosselkhoznadzor, said on Sunday that Russia would seize and destroy meat products, in particular, pork found in the luggage of air and sea passengers arriving from Mexico and those parts of the United States where outbreaks of swine flu were registered.

Vlasov also said that Russia had imposed a ban on the importation of raw pork meat from Mexico and some U.S. states.

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