Cablegate: Avian Influenza Confirmed at Petting Zoo
O 041338Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY TEL AVIV
TO SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 4863
INFO DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS TEL AVIV 000033
INTERIOR PASS FISH AND WILDLIFE
USDA FOR APHIS AND FAS
E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU TBIO EAGR ETRD USTR IS KWBG
SUBJECT: AVIAN INFLUENZA CONFIRMED AT PETTING ZOO
SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED - PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY.
1. SUMMARY: On January 3, 2008 the Israeli Veterinary and Animal
Health Services (IVAHS) in cooperation with the Ministry of
Agriculture (MOA) confirmed Avian Influenza (H5N1) in birds at a
Binyamina kindergarten petting zoo in North-Central Israel.
Currently, there is no indication that any humans have contracted
the disease. The chairman of the Public Health Services says that
the Ministry of Health (MOH) continues to examine the source of the
outbreak. The MOH announced that there is no risk in continuing to
eat chicken and eggs. This is the first case of confirmed H5N1 in
poultry since the initial outbreak of Avian Influenza in Israel in
March 2006. END SUMMARY.
2. (U) Of the 32 birds at the petting zoo (20 chickens, 8 ducks, and
4 pigeons), 18 chickens were found dead on the morning of January
3rd. The remaining birds were culled by the Israeli Veterinary
Service which ran epidemiological tests at the Beit Dagan Veterinary
Institute to confirm H5N1.
3. (U) The initial discovery was made by a kindergarten teacher who
called a veterinarian. Neither the kindergarten staff nor the
children have been given preventive medicine since they did not come
in direct contact with the birds. Ten to twelve
veterinarians-including the caretaker of the petting zoo-who all had
direct contact with the infected birds, were given tamiflu as a
precautionary measure. The hospitals in the area have been alerted
to look for anyone reporting flu-like symptoms; however, there is no
indication that any humans have contracted the disease. One child
who attends the kindergarten was hospitalized in Hadera, near
Binyamina, with a bronchial infection, but not bird flu.
4. (U) In order to prevent the spread of infection, all poultry
within three kilometers of the infected site will be destroyed. MOA
has put all poultry coops and hatcheries within a ten-kilometer
radius under quarantine. Poultry flocks within this radius will be
monitored and undergo active surveillance for signs of disease.
Removal of poultry from the areas under quarantine is prohibited.
MOA officials are monitoring traffic and inspecting vehicles on the
main roads leading from Binyamina and all side roads are closed to
prevent smuggling. All laboratory tests that have been sent to Beit
Dagan from poultry houses within the three-kilometer radius have
been negative for signs of avian flu thus far.
5. (SBU) Within the three-kilometer radius, there are two farms that
house grand-parent stock of turkey. This is the first generation,
and the most sensitive, expensive and difficult to replace in the
line of production. Culling this stock could cause a shortage of
turkey meat in 12-18 months. For these reasons, special
dispensation has been granted to these two farms within the
3-kilometer radius. Rather than culling the birds immediately, they
will be tested every 72 hours for H5N1, until it is determined that
they are no longer a threat for Avian Influenza. There was also a
small flock (2600) within the 3-kilometer radius of "table egg
layer" chickens that were culled even though they tested negative
6. (U) The MOA is responsible, by law, to compensate coop owners
whose poultry is destroyed. According to press reports, the
chicken-growers feel that the current amount of compensation offered
is inadequate to completely re-stock, and have asked for an increase
of at least 25%.
7. Post will continue to monitor the situation closely.