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Cablegate: Eastern India Alert to Avian Influenza Risk Following

VZCZCXRO9204
PP RUEHBI RUEHCHI RUEHCI
DE RUEHCI #0116/01 1000546
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 100546Z APR 07
FM AMCONSUL KOLKATA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1493
INFO RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1409
RUEHCG/AMCONSUL CHENNAI 0619
RUEHBI/AMCONSUL MUMBAI 0613
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 0393
RUEHGO/AMEMBASSY RANGOON 0253
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 0022
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 0159
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR 0023
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 0399
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 0320
RHHJJPI/PACOM IDHS HONOLULU HI
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHPH/CDC CDC ATLANTA GA PRIORITY
RUEIDN/DNI WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEHC/USAID WASHDC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1841

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 KOLKATA 000116

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

HHS PLEASE PASS NIH
HHS FOR WSTEIGER/DBELL/BHAT
NIH FOR RGLASS/TMAMPILLY
CDC FOR SBLOUNT/NCOX
USDA/W FOR APHIS/DEHAVEN AND FAS/WBRANT/CRADLER

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR TBIO KFLU CASC EAID AMED PGOV IN BM BG
SUBJECT: EASTERN INDIA ALERT TO AVIAN INFLUENZA RISK FOLLOWING
OUTBREAKS IN BANGLADESH AND BURMA

REF: A. A) RANGOON 00315 D) DHAKA 00569

B. B) RANGOON 00304 E) DHAKA 00533
C. C) RANGOON 00287 F) DHAKA 00480

1. (SBU) Summary: With the recent reported cases of Avian
Influenza (AI) in Bangladesh and Burma, neighboring Indian
states have alerted officials to monitor for possible outbreaks
and have banned imports of poultry products from those two
countries (reftels). On April 7, the "Hindustan Times" reported
that approximately 1,000 chickens died at a poultry farm in West
Bengal. However, there has been no confirmation that those
deaths are AI-related and they could be attributed to any number
of causes, including the recent over 100 degree Fahrenheit
temperatures. End Summary.

-------------------------------------

Eastern India Responds to AI Concerns

-------------------------------------

2. (SBU) In West Bengal, the Animal Resources Department (ARD)
received an alert notice from the GOI Home Ministry about AI
incidents in Burma and Bangladesh. The Government of West
Bengal (GOWB) has set up control rooms in nine districts
bordering Bangladesh.

3. (SBU) An April 7 newspaper article, quoting the Chief
Medical Officer of North 24 Parganas district, said that nearly
1,000 poultry died at a place called Gaighata. When this was
reported to the federal Agriculture Ministry, a team of
officials, led by national Ministry of Agriculture, Animal
Health Commissioner S.K. Bandyopadhyay, went to the district on
the border with Bangladesh to investigate. However, our
contacts in the state ARD maintain that they have no report of
unusual poultry deaths in Gaighata or anywhere in West Bengal,
reflecting a possible disconnect between the state health
offices and the state ARD. The contact told post that the
national ARD team along with its state counterpart and the
district administration were inspecting the border areas in view
of the heightened surveillance, after Bangladesh and Burma
confirmed AI outbreaks. The team was checking trade
consignments to and from Bangladesh as India has halted poultry
and livestock trade with its neighbor.

-----------------------

Northeast Also on Alert

-----------------------

4. (U) The India's Northeastern states located between
Bangladesh and Burma are also increasing their AI surveillance.

A. (SBU) Assam: The Assam government directed districts
bordering Bangladesh to restrict the movement of poultry
products and poultry feed from across the border. The Director
of Veterinary Services has ordered all district veterinary
officers to ensure round-the-clock vigil in hatcheries, rural

KOLKATA 00000116 002 OF 003


households and riverine routes along the border to prevent the
import of poultry products. District authorities have been
directed to collect serum and faecal samples of poultry
regularly in the area falling within 20 km of the international
border. The deputy commissioners of border districts have also
been directed to keep a strict watch on the situation

B. (SBU) Meghalaya: The Meghalaya government constituted a
task force to monitor cases of bird flu in the State. All seven
border districts are under the authority of the task force.
According to the Animal Husbandry and Veterinary Department
Commissioner and Secretary P. Naik, Meghalaya would set up
check points to prevent import of poultry into the state along
the 423 kilometer border. "Import of poultry products from
Bangladesh has been barred in Meghalaya," Naik said and noting
that other States in the region have also banned the import of
poultry from Bangladesh and Myanmar. "Adequate precautionary
measures were being undertaken and there was nothing to panic,"
he added. The task force would conduct surveillance, early
detection and vaccination programs. The veterinary department
has conducted examinations in the markets.

C. (SBU) Tripura: Contacts in industry associations have
reported no unusual poultry deaths. There is a ban already in
place on poultry and meat imports from Bangladesh. Post's
contact in the Tripura Animal Resources Department said that the
state government has alerted the Border Security Force (BSF) and
other security agencies to be alert so that no meat or poultry
are smuggled into the state. The contact indicated that
contrary to alarmist press reports, there was no panic among
people. He asked if we could provide 1,000 copies of the AI
manual issued by the GOI in Bengali for distribution among his
staff. The state government has said it has no resources to
print 1,000 copies of the AI manual.

D. (SBU) Manipur: The State Veterinary Department has
instituted a ban on import of livestock, especially chicken and
eggs, from Burma through the border town of Moreh. Director of
Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Dr T.H. Debendra said that state
authorities have issued instructions to the army, paramilitary
forces, police as well as the district administration to monitor
import of poultry products following confirmation of the
outbreak in Burma and Bangladesh. According to press reports,
the Director further said that as part of the ongoing
surveillance work, 122 Avian Sero samples, including one from a
migratory bird have been collected from Bishnupur, Ukhrul,
Churachandpur, Chandel, Imphal East and Imphal West districts of
Manipur. On March 28, these samples were sent to the High
Security Risk Animal Disease Laboratory in Bhopal. (Note:
Embassy Health Attachi was informed that the Bhopal has received
a large number of poultry specimens for H5N1 testing. It is not
clear if this increase in samples is due to greater surveillance
as ordered by the Ministry of Agriculture or results from more
samples from dead birds. End Note.) The Debendra also appealed
to the public to report immediately if they come across any
suspected cases of bird flu and to help in collecting samples.
The Department is scheduled to publish books and pamphlets
providing detailed information on the disease for disseminating
to the public. Deputy Director of Veterinary Dr S. Thoiba Singh
with security forces has been conducting routine checks as well.

E. (SBU) Mizoram: The Administrator of Champai district,
which is located 210 km from the state capital of Aizawl and
borders Burma, (it has a trading post at Zokhawtar) said that he
also received an AI alert from the GOI home ministry about 15
days prior to the AI outbreak in Burma and Bangladesh. He has
imposed prohibitory orders on the import of poultry and raw meet
from Burma. The ARD department in Mizoram has not reported any

KOLKATA 00000116 003 OF 003


poultry deaths.

F. (U) Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh: These states as well
have been put on alert and have been monitoring for possible AI
outbreaks.

5. (SBU) COMMENT: The press report of bird deaths in West
Bengal indicates a lack of coordination and the absence of a
clearly defined chain of command among different agencies
involved in the surveillance and detection of AI. Apparently,
the West Bengal Health Department officials "heard" about the
poultry deaths but informed GOI agricultural ministry in Delhi,
rather than contacting the state ARD office which is responsible
for monitoring AI in the state. The Northeastern states are
also aware of the AI threat but appear to have limited resources
and capacity to cover the thousands of kilometers of border with
Bangladesh and Burma.
JARDINE

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