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U.S., Pakistan Fight Bird Flu

The U.S. will provide Pakistan with equipment that will reduce the time needed to identify avian flu virus down to six hours. In the past, it took up to seventy-two hours to identify the virus. Greatly speeding up the process will eliminate unnecessary killing of birds and reduce the risk of the disease spreading to humans. Pakistan has had twenty-eight small-scale poultry farms with confirmed cases of avian flu, resulting in the killing of more than one-hundred-twenty-thousand birds.

In addition to the new equipment to speed up the detection process, the U.S. has already provided two-thousand sets of personal protective equipment to those working to combat avian flu in Pakistan. As part of a long-term plan to contain the virus, the U.S. will also help Pakistan’s Ministry of Health upgrade its ability to investigate and control the outbreak of communicable diseases.

In 2005, the U.S. initiated the International Partnership for Avian and Pandemic Influenza, which now involves more than ninety nations. The U.S. has pledged more than three-hundred-thirty million dollars to control avian flu. The goal is to prevent a new human influenza pandemic.

Medical experts say the bird flu could mutate into a form that could be transmitted from person to person. Since people would have no immunity to this new flu virus, such an outbreak could lead to a worldwide epidemic, causing widespread illness and death.

U.S. Under Secretary of State Paula Dobriansky said that if avian flu developed into a human pandemic, it “could cripple economies, bring international trade and travel to a standstill, and also jeopardize political stability.” President George W. Bush says, “No nation can afford to ignore this threat, and every nation has responsibilities to detect and stop its spread.”

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States Government.