New outbreaks of the bird flu virus is expected in poultry during the course of 2006, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). This is not expected to take place among human beings on a large scale, in spite of the human infections in Iraq and Turkey. Governments have however been called upon to be prepared to face the worst, and all the 192 member nations have been called upon to improve their surveillance where the disease is concerned. Large-scale infections in Iraq have been denied by the WHO.
During the last two years, several countries have reported outbreaks of the avian influenza caused by the H5N1 virus in people, and close to 100 have died, most of them in Vietnam. In addition more than 140 million chickens have been slaughtered in an effort to contain the disease. So far, the virus has only spread from infected animals to humans, but WHO has warned that it could change into a form that spreads easily from person to person, triggering an influenza pandemic that could kill millions of people worldwide.