There are two diseases that are covered by the media at present. On the one hand there is the bird disease, avian influenza, and in particular the strain H5N1 that is affecting poultry in a number of South-East Asian countries, China and more recently Bulgaria, Rumania, the Ukraine, Turkey, Nigeria, Italy, Germany and France. The H5N1 strain is able to infect humans through close contact with contaminated birds. It only rarely transmits from birds to cause disease in humans. It does not transmit between humans. On the other hand, experts predict that reassortment or mutation of this or possibly some other virus could lead to a new virus emerging which transmits easily between humans and for which there is no established immunity in the human population. This could lead to a human influenza pandemic. If, when and how such an event is likely to occur is not known. However, WHO urges governments to prepare for this possibility. To read how the Australlian Government is preparing for a possible human influenza pandemic, go to the website of the Federal Department of Health and the Aging. For an international perspective, we recommend the World Health Organization site.