Pandemic Risk Real, Mounting

Experts fear spread of disease, entrenched in avian population, to humans
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted May 6, 2008 3:55 PM CDT
A scientist works at the U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit-2 (NAMRU-2) in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, April 30, 2008.   (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)
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(Newser) – The danger of a worldwide bird flu epidemic is growing as the virus becomes established in the avian population, Reuters reports. World Health Organization experts today urged all nations to prepare in case the H5N1 virus mutates into a form easily transferable between humans. In birds, the strain has spread across Asia, Africa, and parts of Europe.

"We are concerned that the spread through migratory birds hasn't stopped," said a Thai expert chairing a WHO conference in Geneva. "Once the virus is established in birds, it is difficult to get rid of the virus and the possible risk to humans remains unless countries develop good control of transmission in birds."