Countries must be prepared for 'inevitable' pandemic

Countries must speed up their preparations to deal with an "inevitable" human influenza pandemic, which could strike soon, a senior U.N. official warned on Tuesday.

David Nabarro, the U.N. coordinator on avian and human influenza, said countries must work fast because the H5N1 strain of &to=' target=_blank>bird flu could mutate into a form that spreads easily between people much faster than some officials seem to believe.

Experts fear that a mutation in the bird flu virus, which has ravaged poultry stocks across Asia since late 2003 and killed at least 82 people worldwide, could spark a pandemic killing millions of people.

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