A global animal health organization says the bird flu outbreak that has killed 50 people in Asia since 2003 could spread to other parts of the world.

World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) Director Bernard Vallat made this statement Thursday at a conference in Paris that also included officials from the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Health Organization (WHO).

The French news agency AFP quotes Mr. Vallat as saying North Korea, which recently reported its own bird flu cases, officially asked his agency for help.

A WHO official, Francois-Xavier Meslin, says 79 human cases of bird flu have been reported in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia, with a mortality rate of 62 percent.

(Some information for this report provided by AFP and Reuters.)