Vietnam appeals to international community for help to prevent bird flu spreading as winter approaches

As bird flu begins to top government agendas worldwide, Vietnam on Wednesday asked the international community for help in fighting the virus that has hit the communist country harder than any other.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told Hanoi is taking the health threat seriously, but Vietnam can't prevent the virus from spreading alone.

International experts warn that more help is needed to head off a potential flu pandemic that could kill millions worldwide. Dung's remarks came ahead of a visit to Hanoi by the United States' top health official to assess Vietnam's bird flu preparedness, the AP reports.

Diplomats and donors ranging from Japan and China to Denmark, Australia and the World Bank praised Vietnam's leadership and readiness to work with the international community to improve surveillance and laboratory facilities. But some cautioned the government not to focus too much on a long-term strategy with the winter flu months fast approaching in Vietnam. A.M.