U.S. to help Cambodia deal with bird flu

The United States will provide Cambodia with the expertise and funding needed to help the poor Southeast Asian nation fight bird flu, the U.S. Embassy announced Tuesday. The assistance includes enabling Cambodia to quickly respond to outbreaks of the deadly illness as part of Washington's newly-intensified efforts to prevent a possible worldwide flu pandemic.

The two countries were to sign an accord on the assistance later Tuesday in the Cambodian capital. The deal comes during a visit to the region by U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt, who is leading a delegation including the head of the World Health Organization and other top health professionals.

Bird flu has swept through poultry populations in many parts of Asia since 2003 and jumped to humans, killing at least 60 people, including four Cambodians.

WHO officials and other experts have been warning that the virus could mutate into a form that spreads easily among humans. In a worst-case scenario, millions of people could die, they say, reports the AP. I.L.

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