A group of British scientists is heading to China and North Vietnam this weekend in the hope of fostering greater international collaboration to help tackle avian influenza and other emerging infections.

Andrew McMichael, director of the Medical Research Council (MRC) Human Immunology Unit at Oxford University, will lead the 10-day mission. One of its principal goals is to gather information about the surveillance of avian flu in China.

"We're going to the Chinese CDC and will be able to talk to scientists on the ground who we already know," McMichael told The Scientist. "We're reasonably optimistic that we will get a pretty good picture."

Avian influenza has affected bird populations in nine Asian countries--the Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, Lao People's Democratic Republic, Indonesia, China, and Malaysia. Russia reported its first H5N1 outbreak in poultry in late July 2005, followed by reports of disease in adjacent...

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