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Countries Step up Battle Against Bird Flu

e the risk of a bird flu outbreak on the world's poorest continent at the Beijing meeting, experts said. The plan, worked out by 140 experts from 43 African countries, will seek financing from international organizations and donors to strengthen medical testing facilities in Africa to provide early warning of the virus.

The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu has not yet been detected in Africa. But African experts fear that the flight paths of migrating birds through the east and west of the continent, coupled with traditional farming methods that see poor communities living side by side with poultry, raise the risk of an outbreak.

While it remains essentially a disease in birds, scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form that could spread easily between humans, causing a pandemic in which millions could die.

Experts say lack of financial, medical and technical resources in Africa could make it even more difficult to fight a major outbreak on the continent.


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