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US to Host International Conference on Bird Flu

The United States will host a two-day international conference on the avian (bird) flu virus in Washington beginning Thursday.

U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack Wednesday said more than 65 countries and international organizations concerned about preventing a global bird flu pandemic will be participating.

He said U.S. officials leading the meeting will focus on a set of core principles regarding the H5N1 virus unveiled by Washington at last month's U.N. World Summit.

He said the program principles include quick and accurate reporting of outbreaks of the virus, donor support for countries affected by the disease and a pledge to work with the World Health Organization. Many participants have already signed on to the U.S.-led program.

About 60 people have died after being exposed to birds with the virus. Experts warn the virus could mutate into a form passed easily among humans and cause a global pandemic.