World Bank pledges up to $500 mil. for bird flu

The World Bank said it was finalizing plans to provide up to US $500 million to help poor countries fight bird flu, as new cases emerged in China and Vietnam and Japan prepared to slaughter around 180,000 birds because of a suspected outbreak. The plan comes as the bank prepares to take part in an international conference in Geneva next week to discuss managing bird flu in poultry and other birds, as well as plans for a possible human flu pandemic. The virulent H5N1 strain of bird flu has killed at least 62 people and resulted in the deaths of more than 100 million birds since 2003. Most of the human deaths have been linked to close contact with infected birds, but experts fear the virus could mutate into a form easily passed among humans, possibly sparking a worldwide pandemic. Click here to read the full story.