April 4, 2006 -- The United Nations says the H5N1 strain of bird flu has spread rapidly since the beginning of the year.
The UN's chief coordinator for avian influenza, David Nabarro, told reporters in Beijing that 30 new countries and territories in Africa, Europe, South Asia, and the Middle East have reported infections in birds this year.
Only 15 countries, mostly in Asia, reported H5N1 in the previous 2 1/2 years.
The H5N1 strain of the virus has killed more than 100 people since 2003, mainly in Asia. Health experts fear it could someday mutate into a form easily spread among people, potentially sparking a pandemic.