19 Aug 2005

Northern Marianas health officials say islands vulnerable to outbreak of bird flu

10:56 am on 19 August 2005

Authorities in the Northern Marianas say the island chain is vulnerable to a potential epidemic of bird flu.

The medical director of the CNMI Division of Public Health, Richard Brostrom, says local vets are checking poultry birds for signs of the virus.

Mr Brostrom says the Northern Marianas are prone to the disease because they're close to affected countries in Southeast Asia.

He says the public hospital doesn't have enough intensive care units to cope with any outbreak but an expansion of facilities is now under way.

Bird flu has killed 59 people worldwide.