The virulent strain of bird flu, called H5N1, has swept through poultry populations in Asia since 2003, and has now been found in Europe. At least 62 people in the region have died from the virus and tens of millions of birds have been killed in an attempt to stop the virus from spreading in bird populations. World Health Organization (WHO) Director General, Dr. Jong Woo Lee, says millions of people could die if the virus mutates into a form that spreads easily among people. During his visit to Indonesia, Michael Leavitt, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, said, "No nation can afford to ignore this. The effects of a pandemic go well beyond personal health. They affect economics, they affect politics, they affect social issues, and social concerns." Leavitt also visited Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam, the countries so far most seriously affected by bird flu.
VOA has a special web page for all avian flu stories. You can find it at http: //www.voanews.com/english/avianflu.cfm. Bookmark it, and keep up-to-date on the status of the flu and international efforts to fight it.