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Friday, 30 September 2005 12:42
BNN: British Nursing News Online · www.bnn-online.co.uk
Bird flu could kill 150 million
A UN health official has warned that a pandemic of bird flu could happen at any time and kill between 5-150 million people.

David Nabarro said a strain of the virus currently affecting Asia could trigger new outbreaks.

"The consequences in terms of human life when the pandemic does start are going to be extraordinary and very damaging," he told the BBC.

Bird flu has killed massive numbers of birds and poultry in Asia since 2003 and has also claimed 60 human lives.

"It's like a combination of global warming and HIV/Aids 10 times faster than it's running at the moment," Dr Nabarro said.

He added that the possibility of avian flu mutating into a strain easily transmittable between humans was high and, because of migratory bird patterns, "the first outbreak could happen even in Africa or in the Middle East".

The Association of South East Asian Nations has recently agreed to a three-year plan to stop the spread of the infection, and pledged $2 million to fund research.

Dr Nabarro said the number of deaths from any future pandemic would depend on where it started and the speed of response from governments.

"The range of deaths could be anything between 5m and 150m," he said.

"I believe that the work we're doing over the next few months will make the difference between, for example, whether the next pandemic leads us in the direction of 150 or in the direction of five. "So our effectiveness will be directly measured in lives saved and the consequences for the world."


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