At the moment 363 people are in hospital, and some newspapers have linked the outbreak to the recent murder of Russia’s leading specialist in bio weapons.
The outbreak began at the end of May in the Tver region and has now reached the neighboring region of Smolensk, agencies report.
It was initially blamed on a local soft drink manufacturer, whose products were found to be contamibated with E Coli bacteria,but the investigation is still considering other possibilities, including the deliberate use of bio-weapons.
Some sources link Wednesday’s murder of Anti-Microbe Therapy Institute director Leonid Strachunsky, who specialized in creating antibiotic- resistant bio - weapons, to the hepatitis outbreak.
Strachunsky was found dead in his hotel room in Moscow, where he had been staying overnight,as part of a visit to the United States.
He had been hit on the head with a champagne bottle, and some of his possessions were missing. The initial suspicion was that he had been killed during a botched robbery.
Now investigators are looking for a possible connection between this murder and the hepatitis outbreak in Tver.
On re-examination,this looks like BS !!
Here is a better (?) source on the outbreak. (Pravda,RU)
Hepatitis A epidemic in Russia's center likely caused by terrorist act
The virus was most likely discharged in the water, which a local brewing enterprise used in the production.
Hepatitis A epidemic is gathering steam in the Tver region of Russia, spreading to other regions of Russia's center. Eleven residents have been hospitalized with hepatitis in the neighboring Smolensk region. 352 people in total, including 75 children, have been infected with hepatitis A as of 9 a.m. of June 9th.
Investigators say that the infection sprang from the Rzhev-based brewing company Rzhevpivo (the Tver region), which is the largest enterprise in the town. Doctors say that the viral infection could find itself in company's products as a result of a terrorist act. Competition with other brewing companies could also become a reason of the hepatitis epidemic in the Tver region of Russia, which is adjacent to the Moscow region.
All eleven patients from the Smolensk region consumed products by Rzhevpivo. It is worth mentioning that the enterprise delivered its production to other regions on a regular basis.
Pravda.Ru has already reported before that the infection originally appeared from a workshop, which illegally produced mineral water and soft drinks. The original version has not been confirmed, though: specialists determined now that the epidemic began because of the brewing company's production.
The epidemic of hepatitis has not reached the Moscow region yet.(Update: It has reached the Moscow region. Several cases.)
However, 67 more people were hospitalized with the hepatitis A virus in the Tver region yesterday.
Sanitary inspectors say that the virus was most likely discharged in the water, which the brewing enterprise subsequently used in the production process.
"I believe that it was either a terrorist act, or the competitive struggle. There is no official version so far, investigators are still working," a sanitary inspector said.
Spokespeople for Rzhevpivo say, however, that their company has become a scapegoat in the problem. "We absolutely deny our guilt. The bacteria, which medical specialists found in our products, cause dysentery, not hepatitis," a spokesperson for the brewing company said.
Update 06/10/05 (No bio-terror- lots of poor sanitation !)