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Top US Health Official Travels to Asia for Bird Flu Talks


U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt is heading for Asia and talks on dealing with a possible bird flu mutation that could spread to humans. He will have talks in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos.

As he left Saturday, The New York Times reported that a Bush administration plan suggests the United States is woefully unprepared for a severe pandemic that potentially could kill millions.

President Bush discussed the issue with pharmaceutical company officials Friday, while the State Department hosted an international conference on the topic.

Meanwhile, Turkey and Romania are reporting new cases. Turkish television said 2,000 birds have died from the bird flu in Turkey's northwestern province of Balikesir. Romania has restricted access to a village after three ducks were found dead from the bird flu virus Friday.

More than 60 human deaths have been attributed to bird flu in the past two years in Asia.

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