HONG KONG — Fears of a recurrence of an outbreak of SARS, the respiratory illness that devastated Asia last spring, have been replaced by concerns over the rapid spread of avian influenza. Bird flu, as the H5N1 virus is commonly known, has spread rapidly across the region and is currently affecting 10 countries in Asia. It is also being blamed for 16 human deaths in Vietnam and Thailand.

There is also an extensive outbreak among China’s chickens. No human cases have been documented there yet, but the World Health Organization is monitoring the situation closely.

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