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Bird Flu

BBC News

International health and food safety agencies have appealed to donors for funds and technical assistance to help stop the spread of bird flu in Asia.

The agencies warned that the disease could become an influenza pandemic.

"We have a brief window of opportunity before us to eliminate that threat," said Jacques Diouf, head of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.

There are fears that the bird flu virus could mutate, attaching itself to a human flu virus which could spread between people.

"Although it has not happened yet, the so-called 'bird flu' presents a risk of evolving into an efficient and dangerous human pathogen," the agencies warned.

"This is a serious global threat to human health," said WHO Director General Lee Jong-wook.

"This time, we face something we can possibly control before it reaches global proportions if we work co-operatively and share needed resources. We must begin this hard, costly work now."

Following widespread withdrawal from UK MMR vaccine programes I fully expect the chattering classes to demand that the Government "do something".

Like start a vaccine programme, for example?

Follow me on Twitter: @IanYorston

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