Asia's economies risk a multi-billion dollar meltdown if bird flu starts spreading through direct human transmission, experts warn.
The economic impact could be huge, experts say
At present, the casualties have been rural farmworkers and their families, infected by contact with chickens.
However, human-to-human infection could threaten as big a travel and trade standstill as that which accompanied the Sars respiratory virus in 2003.
But experts say the lessons learnt from Sars would mitigate the worst effects.
Sars, which killed some 800 people and infected about 8,000 others, brought much of Asia to a near-standstill in the early months of last year.
After a slow start, a rapid international response brought the epidemic under control.
In a statement, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) held out a helping hand to the 10 countries affected so far, in the hope of stemming the outbreak.
International technical expertise, equipment such as protective clothing and surveillance and monitoring of public health are all on offer.
As long as the risk could be confined to the scattered rural areas it currently affects, said ADB assistant chief economist Jean-Pierre Verbiest, the economic consequences may well be moderate.
"But if the flu creates a major travel scare as was the case with Sars, tourism and other economic losses could reach tens of billions of dollars," he said.
The role of chicken as a staple in the diet of much of Asia would be threatened, Mr Verbiest said, pushing prices up and hitting the budgets of the poor in particular.
The chicken exports industry could also grind to a halt, freezing industries worth - for example - $1bn a year to Thailand and up to $7bn a year to Indonesia.
Financial markets in the region have fallen slightly, but investors are remaining calm, said Peter Haines of Aberdeen Asset Management in Singapore.
"I think the concern with investors is whether this becomes a SARS-like situation," he told the BBC's World Business Report.
"I guess that would only come about if we suddenly discovered that this disease can be passed on from human to human."
"That clearly would have big economic implications for the region."