MANILA Southeast Asian nations approved the creation of a regional fund to fight bird flu and other animal diseases, officials said on Friday, as the United Nations warned the virus could mutate and kill up to 150 million people.
They said the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) will also endorse a global plan to contain avian influenza, which has killed 66 people in four Asian countries since late 2003 and led to an estimated $15 billion in losses for the poultry trade.
''The creation of the animal health trust fund has been approved,'' Philippine Agriculture Secretary Domingo Panganiban told Reuters by telephone from Tagaytay, a resort city south of Manila where ASEAN agriculture ministers were meeting.
The fund would also be used to prevent the spread of other illnesses affecting animals such as foot-and-mouth disease and hog cholera, other officials have said.
The World Health Organisation (WHO), the U.N. health agency, said on Thursday that if the bird flu virus spreads among humans, the quality of the global response would determine whether it ends up killing 5 million people or as many as 150 million.
Summarized by Copernic Summarizer