Sunday, November 28, 2004

Asian bird flu pandemic?

The Asian bird flu could become the world's next pandemic, causing as many as seven million deaths, said a World Health official at a regional conference in Hanoi: "The current outbreak (of avian influenza) in poultry is historically unprecedented in terms of geographical spread and impact," Shigeru Omi, Western Pacific regional director of WHO, said Friday. "This virus appears to be not only very resilient, but also extremely versatile."

Omi said that the region must reduce bird flu's threat to humans by changing farming practices. "This means a thorough overhaul of animal husbandry practices, and the way animals are raised for food in the region. I believe that anything less than that will only result in further threats to public health," he explained. (Associated Press, Nov. 26; see also World Health Organization's website: ).


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