Health officials warned that the world is close to its next pandemic -- a powerful and highly contagious mix of avian influenza and flu virus that would likely be centered in Asia. Authorities said humans, and not animals as initially thought, would probably be the carriers. "We are getting closer, but when it's going to happen, I don't know," said Francois Xavier-Meslin, coordinator for disease control, prevention and eradication at the World Health Organization. "If it happens, which is not yet proven, it's going to be worse than SARS," he said at a meeting on bird flu, led by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations. "It's a very highly contagious disease compared to SARS." Officials, including those from Japan, China and South Korea, were discussing ways to increase bird flu surveillance and inter-agency reporting among countries. -- by the Associated Press
WHO warns of possibility of new pandemic soon
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