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Cablegate: Leading Avian Influenza Expert, Dr. David Swayne, Visits

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DE RUEHEG #2835/01 2621333
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 191333Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY CAIRO
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 6949
INFO RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN 1778
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA 0126
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 0196
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RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 0182
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RUEHUJA/AMEMBASSY ABUJA 0118
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 0007
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 0007
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0032
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RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0007
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG 0020
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0010

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 CAIRO 002835

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KSCA KFLU EAGR PGOV EG
SUBJECT: LEADING AVIAN INFLUENZA EXPERT, DR. DAVID SWAYNE, VISITS
EGYPT; USAID PROGRAM UPDATE.

REF: CAIRO 2686

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSFIED. PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Dr. David Swayne, Director of the Southeast
Poultry Research Lab and leading expert on Avian Influenza (AI), met
with the week of August 26 with Government of Egypt (GOE),
non-government organization (NGO) and private sector poultry
entities. USAID approved USD 8.2 million in funding under its USD
24 million, three year AI program, on September 11. The United
Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the General
Organization of Veterinary Service (GOVS) continue to work together,
having resolved a number of disagreements on elements of the
program. According to World Health Organization (WHO) statistics,
Egypt accounts for 30 percent of the world's human AI cases thus far
in 2007. END SUMMARY.

------------------
Dr. Swayne's Visit
------------------

2. (U) During his August 25-31 visit Dr. Swayne met a wide variety
of AI stakeholders and toured domestic poultry farms. In a meeting
with Minister of Agriculture and Land Reclamation (MALR) Ahmed
Abazza, Dr. Swayne stressed the need for a strategic, comprehensive
vaccination program including high quality vaccines, targeting high
risk areas as well as education and behavior change campaigns in the
backyard sector. Abazza agreed on the need for behavioral changes
among local poultry farmers as misinformation and mistrust continues
to hinder the vaccination program. Abazza wants to raise awareness
without creating panic, but noted the difficulty in changing
behavior given that "thousands [of people] die everyday of other
serious things."
3. (U) Dr. Swayne also discussed vaccination strategies with Dr.
Mona Aly, Director of the Central Lab for Quality Control of Poultry
Production (CLQPP), and her team. CLQPP tests all potentially
infected domestic birds for the AI virus in Egypt. He also
addressed over 150 officials from various government and
non-government agencies directly involved in Egypt's effort to
combat AI at the Ministry of Agriculture.

------------------------
Dr. Swayne's Conclusions
------------------------

4. (U) At the end of his visit, Dr. Swayne recommended to GOE and
NGO stakeholders: 1) a vaccine strategy that includes high quality
vaccine, 2) a stable cold chain and risk analysis for where, when
and how often to administer vaccines and 3) a broad surveillance
network with a central hub for data collection to coordinate
containment and treatment efforts is vital. Currently, Egypt
imports 19 different vaccines of varying quality. Dr. Swayne
recommended each vaccine be tested and regulated by GOE before use
in the country.

5. (U) Dr. Swayne considers backyard farms, where prevention and
containment efforts are co-dependent upon GOE efforts and private
citizen cooperation, Egypt's biggest challenge. To promote citizen
participation, Dr. Swayne recommended a system to reward farmers
bringing in birds for vaccinations with free vitamins for the birds
or other incentives. He also suggested GOE study ways to encourage
the purchase of vaccinated birds. Dr. Swayne also noted that,
contrary to press accounts attributing Egypt's AI problems to
migratory bird, AI transmission from wild, migratory birds to
backyard poultry is rare.

--------------------------------------------- -
Frank Discussion Or Friction Between Partners?
--------------------------------------------- -

6. (SBU) Although the USAID Detailed Implementation Plan (DIP)
process continues to make progress, some obstacles remain. Two
primary recipients, FAO and GOVS, have finally agreed on

CAIRO 00002835 002 OF 003


implementation strategy priorities after intense discussions. At an
August 29 DIP meeting, FAO team leader Rob de Rooij commented that
"GOVS is less concerned about the cold chain than FAO. We must
still come to an agreement on this."

7. (U) GOVS representative, Dr. Saber Abdel Aziz, however insists
that an effective cold chain exists throughout Egypt, and that
poultry in 65 percent of households have been vaccinated
(representing 55 - 60 million birds). He noted that in August,
there were only three cases of AI in backyard sector birds,
crediting the vaccination program. He blamed problems with the
program on the fact that some households are too remote to have easy
access to vaccinations, and that some flock owners refuse the
vaccine or hide their birds out of fear that visiting vets may cull
rather than vaccinate. (There is no compensation program for
backyard flock culling.) Counter to Abdel Aziz's claims of an
effective vaccination program, FAO staff recently found an
unrefrigerated truck full of vaccine sitting outside, in the August
heat, in the GOVS parking lot. NAMRU-3 field samples have also shown
contradictory results in birds that GOVS had supposedly vaccinated.
Also, although NAMRU-3 has confirmed the presence of a new H7 strain
on AI in migratory ducks from Eastern Europe, NAMRU-3 noted H7 is
historically common among ducks. If this becomes endemic, current
vaccines geared towards the H5N1 strain will not be effective and a
new vaccine will be required.

8. (SBU) Despite GOVS requests for USAID funds for poultry vaccine
purchases, the FAO view prevailed that the money should go toward
effective cold chain and data systems that allow fact-based
decisions on vaccine deployment. Major planned expenditures include
training for 1600 field veterinarians, data managers and for
surveillance capabilities. FAO will focus on establishing an
effective cold chain, data collection equipment (i.e. handheld GPS
enabled devices) and poultry sample collection equipment and
training.

9. (U) The process of developing plans and budgets culminated in
September 9-11 meetings attended by both USG and GOE agencies
concerned. USAID has approved, based on the conclusions of the
meetings, USD 8.2 million to fund the first year of activities under
the three year, USD 24 million program.

------------------------
To BSL 3 or Not To BSL 3
------------------------

10. (SBU) Currently NAMRU-3 is the only Bio Safety Level 3 (BSL 3)
laboratory in Egypt. Dr. Mona Aly, Director of CLQCPP, has asked
USAID for funding to build a BSL 3 lab in the new AI lab scheduled
for construction next to her current lab. USAID and NAMRU-3 are
concerned that these facilities will be very expensive to build and
maintain, and believe that the initial focus of the USAID program
should be directed at surveillance and response. NAMRU-3 staff did
propose joint experiments and training at their BSL 3 lab with Dr.
Aly and her staff. As additional labs in Egypt have also expressed
desires to upgrade to BSL 3, APHIS proposed a consultant to review
the BSL 3 issue.

-------
Comment
-------

11. (SBU) According to the WHO, Egypt accounts for 30 percent of the
world's human AI cases in 2007. Other top countries include
Indonesia (47 percent), Viet Nam (7 percent), and China (3 percent).
GOVS is the critical link in combating AI in Egypt, but they
continue to deal with management and organizational weaknesses.
USAID is funding FAO efforts to improve GOVS capacity in order to
reduce virus load in backyard sector flocks. FAO also continues to
promote a shift in GOVS priorities. Post supports FAO's priorities
of establishing a cold chain and strengthening surveillance, and has
confidence in FAO's ability to target the top priorities, despite
continuing friction between FAO and GOVS.

CAIRO 00002835 003 OF 003


Ricciardone

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