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Cambodia and Laos appear to have so far escaped relatively unscathed from bird flu: Laos has had no human cases, and Cambodia just four.

But with most of the 91 human deaths from bird flu occurring in neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam, there is no room for complacency.

In this article in Science, Richard Stone reports on how international donors are helping the two countries to increase their capacity to face the threat of bird flu. This includes teaching health workers how to identify infections and sending young scientists abroad for training.

Donors are supplying equipment to new research centres, such as Cambodia's bird flu diagnostic laboratory at the National Animal Health and Production Investigation Centre, and Laos's first faculty of veterinary science in Vientiane.

Stone says the most urgent need is for better public awareness of the threat. Rural communities are often unaware of the risks of contact with sick poultry and rarely report bird deaths.

Link to full article in Science