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WHO warns of rising bird flu pandemic risk

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The headlines may have died down in recent months, but bird flu experts say that the threat of a global pandemic has actually been growing. The World Health Organization outlined the spread of the bird flu virus around the world to 150 experts drawn together to discuss protective measures.

"We can't delude ourselves. The threat of a pandemic influenza has not diminished," said WHO's Keiji Fukuda, coordinator for the Global Influenza Program.

According to the group, the bird flu virus is now endemic in Asia, Africa and parts of Europe as the disease continues to spread in bird populations. There's great concern that at some point the virus will mutate into a new version that is easily spread among humans. Even in its current strains bird flu has infected 382 people and killed 241 of them--an astonishingly high rate of death for a virus. Indonesia has been the hardest hit, counting 108 deaths from the virus.

In response, WHO has been tracking the progress of 16 companies that have been developing new bird flu vaccines and plans to create a stockpile of 150 million doses.

- check out the report from News-Medical
-
read the reportĀ from the Associated Press

ALSO: Vietnam is reporting a new outbreak of bird flu in one of its southern cities. Report

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