HONG KONG – A leading virus expert urged health authorities around the world Sunday to stay vigilant even though the recent swine flu pandemic was less deadly than expected, warning that bird flu could spark the next global outbreak. A World Health Organization official also defended the U.N.'s health body against accusations that it wasted governments' money and enriched pharmaceutical companies with its strong warnings during the swine flu outbreak's early days last year. WHO declared the swine flu pandemic over last month. The latest death toll is just over 18,600 — far below the millions that were once predicted. The head of the global health body has credited good preparation and luck, since the H1N1 swine flu virus didn't mutate as some had feared. But speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an influenza angel dvd conference in Hong Kong, researcher Robert Webster warned against complacency. "We may think we can relax and influenza is no longer a problem. I want to BTP-C8K8 Battery assure you that that is not the case," said Webster, chairman of the virology and molecular biology department at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Webster predicted that the next pandemic could be sparked by a virus that spreads from water fowl to pigs and Dell Inspiron 9300 battery then onto humans — such as the H5N1 strain of bird flu, which has killed 300 people over the past seven years. He noted that after several years of decline, the number of bird flu cases in humans increased in 2009, lifted by an uptick of cases in Egypt. "H5N1 can kill 61 percent of humans infected, but it doesn't know how to spread from human to human. But don't trust sex and the city dvd it because it could acquire that capacity. So we must stay vigilant," he said. Sylvie Briand, head of WHO's global influenza program, said its surveillance has shown that the bird flu strain isn't capable Dell Inspiron 9400 battery now of jumping between humans except in rare cases of close personal contact, but echoing Webster, warned: "These are viruses that are evolving. They are changing all the time." Both experts said it was difficult to predict when — or if — bird flu might set off a new pandemic. "We don't understand enough about the virus to make predictions," Webster said. University of Hong Kong microbiologist Malik Peiris said scientists are closely monitoring mutations by BTP-C5K8 Battery influenza viruses — including bird flu viruses — but it's hard to determine which mutations are most likely to spread among humans. Briand also defended WHO against accusations that it hyped the swine flu pandemic, saying it was acting with limited information when the virus first surfaced and adjusted its response when it became clear the outbreak wasn't as serious as expected. WHO received at least $170 million from m monk dvdclint eastwood dvd ember states to deal with the outbreak, some of which was invested family guy dvd in immunization programs long after the virus strain was known to provoke only mild illness in most of those infected. Governments spent many times that amount buying vaccines and antiviral medicines that are now being junked. European legislators have repeatedly accused WHO of overstating the danger of swine flu and playing into the hands of the pharmaceutical industry, which has earned millions from the outbreak since it began in April 2009. "We prepared for the worst and hoped for the michael jackson dvdsons of anarchy dvdstar wars dvdp90xp90x best. And as the information became available, there was adaptation of the plan and adaptation of the recommendations in order to really tailor the response to the reality," Briand said. "But it took some time." On Massachusetts' Cape Cod, ferries to and from Nantucket were suspended at noon, le criminal minds dvd g some vacationers stranded on the mainland. On the island, a steady line of pickup trucks towed boats to safe storage until the storm passed, assistant town manager Gregg Tivnan said. In Atlantic City, Bob Quinn of p90xp90xp90x Rochester, N.Y., was planning to leave ahead of the storm Friday. "We were going to be leaving Friday by noon, so we figured we would probably catch the good weather and get out of here just before the bad stuff came in," Quinn said. One man drowned in rough surf in New Jersey on Tuesday and another was missing after going into the ocean Thursday night, state officials said. battlestar galactica dvddisney dvd Ellen McDonough of Boston and a friend were waiting in Hyannis on Friday morning for one of the last ferries to Nantucket. The two had long planned a Labor Day weekend getaway to the island. "It's not a 3-foot snowstorm. I think us New Englanders are tough," McDonough said. "We've had this weekend planned, and no hurricane is going to stop us." The National Weather Service was forecasti the beatles dvd ng winds up to 65 mph on Nantucket, with gusts up to 85 mph. Earl packed winds that had reached 145 mph before losing strength. In North Carolina, portions of Highway 12, the main artery through the Outer Banks, were closed because of tidal flooding. Officials said the road to and from Hatteras Island — home to seven villages — would stay closed through Friday. The highway is critical should residents and tourists who obeyed evacuation or the beatles dvd ders try to return soon. Several counties had asked people to leave risky areas, including Ocracoke and Hatteras islands. On Ocracoke, Highway 12 was p90xp90xturbo firegrey's anatomy dvd open to 4-wheel-drive traffic early Friday, Hyde County spokeswoman Jamie Tunnell said. Officials hoped to open the road to all vehicles by the end of the day. Farther north, Rhode Island Gov. Don Carcieri urged drivers to stay off Interstate 95, which was expected to flood Friday evening. In Maine, two cruise ships, including the Explorer of the Seas with about 3,000 passengers, sought the safety of Portland Harbor to ride out the storm. Hundreds of smaller boats were pulled from the water up and down the coast.