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US to Work with Asia Against Bird Flu

The chief of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Mike Leavitt, heads for Asia Saturday for a series of meetings on bird flu.

He will meet with health officials in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos, to work on plans for dealing with a possible mutation of bird flu that could spread among humans. Public health experts say there is a real risk that the bird flu spreading through poultry flocks in Asia could become a global pandemic.

Meanwhile, The New York Times says it obtained a draft of a Bush administration plan for coping with a human outbreak of bird flu in the United States. The reported draft says the country is woefully unprepared, and it paints a dire picture of what could happen.

The Times says a worst-case scenario could be hundreds of thousands of dead, rioting at vaccination clinics, and overwhelmed hospitals trying to cope.

The reported plan calls for a 10-fold increase in the number of vaccines produced in the United States.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.