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Last Updated: Sunday, 14 May 2006, 15:19 GMT 16:19 UK
Thailand, Vietnam bird flu praise
David Nabarro, senior UN coordinator on avian influenza
The threat of bird flu turning into a human pandemic has not abated
The UN's top bird flu expert has told the BBC he is encouraged by successful efforts in Thailand and Vietnam to reduce the threat posed by the disease.

David Nabarro said he hoped their example would encourage other countries to invest a similar effort.

However, the deadly H5N1 strain still remained a significant threat, especially to Indonesia and Africa.

And despite the positive signs, it did not mean the threat of bird flu turning into a human pandemic had abated.

Strong leadership

Mr Nabarro said he was "very pleased indeed" with how both Thailand and Vietnam had responded to the health crisis facing their domestic poultry.

"These are two countries where there has been very strong political leadership, excellent work by government officials, and an intensive engagement of people at community level," he said.

"They show that with the right level of engagement, we can reduce the threats posed by bird flu, and I'd like to see the same energy carried through to fruition in other countries as well."

Bird flu still posed a "major threat" in both Asia and Africa, where the disease was spreading to new areas and the death toll continued to mount, he said.

And despite efforts to contain the killer virus, which emerged in South-East Asia in 2003, it was still possible it could mutate into a more virulent strain which could become a human pandemic, he warned.


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