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Cablegate: Contiguous Infected Areas in Bangladesh May Undermine The

VZCZCXRO1872
PP RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHCI #0128/01 1091340
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 181340Z APR 08
FM AMCONSUL KOLKATA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1971
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE USD FAS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME PRIORITY 0026
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0100
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 2407

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KOLKATA 000128

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT PLS PASS HHS, APHIS AND CDC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU EAGR TBIO SENV PGOV PREL IN BG
SUBJECT: CONTIGUOUS INFECTED AREAS IN BANGLADESH MAY UNDERMINE THE
GOOD AI REPONSE IN TRIPURA; POSSIBLE NEW CASES REPORTED

REF: KOLKATA 111

KOLKATA 00000128 001.2 OF 002


1. (U) SUMMARY: Feedback from contacts and media reports suggest
that Tripura responded well to the current H5N1 outbreak in the
state. Rapid Response Teams completed culling on schedule, put
in place effective restrictions on poultry movement, and
villagers cooperated with the culling teams. Some new bird
deaths were reported in two other Tripura districts. The
effectiveness of Tripura's response may be mitigated because
teams could not sanitize large tracts of infected zones located
in Bangladesh. West Bengal and Tripura are the only Indian
states so far where culling zones stride across the porous
international border. Given such a situation, an AI response
plan may need a regional or international mechanism to be
effective. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) On April 12, Rapid Response Teams (RRT) from Tripura's
Animal Resources Development (ARD) department completed culling
40,000 birds in Mohanpur (North Tripura District) and adjoining
villages on India-Bangladesh border. Tripura's ARD Secretary
told Post that clean-up and sanitizing operations will be over
by April 17. So far, USD 42,000 has been paid as compensation.
The state administration has imposed stringent movement
restrictions on poultry products in the affected areas. The ARD
Secretary said his government has installed gated checkpoints

SIPDIS
every 500 meters within the contaminated zone that are manned by
ARD and police department officers. Officials are reporting any
attempted movement of birds or poultry products to the ARD
Secretary twice daily. So far there have been no reports of

SIPDIS
illicit poultry transit. Tripura has not reported any human
cases of infection.

3. (U) Unlike in West Bengal where RRTs experienced resistance
to culling, villagers in Tripura came forward to help. "We went
to the villages and convinced everyone about the dangers
associated with H5N1 outbreaks. Villagers were coming to us
with their poultry," the ARD Secretary claimed. Media reports
and Post's contacts corroborated this cooperation. (Comment:
One likely reason for the high degree of cooperation with
culling efforts is that Tripura's ruling CPM party has greater
popular support than in West Bengal, and with a smaller populace
it is easier to raise awareness of the risks of AI. Also,
because of the state's smaller size compared to West Bengal, the
command and control structure for disaster response is more
clearly defined. End Comment.)

4. (U) Tripura's government has pre-positioned 500 Personal
Protective Equipment (PPE), medicine and chemical supplies in
each of the state's four administrative district headquarters,
although there are no official reports of H5N1 outbreaks from
other districts. Contacts reported some new poultry deaths from
West and South Tripura districts. About 200 birds died at
Nehalnagar and Rajnagar villages of Belonia subdivision (South
Tripura). Bird deaths were also reported from another village
named Mohanpur (West Tripura) and Chebri village of Khowai
subdivision (West Tripura). On April 16, the ARD Department
sent samples from these villages to Bhopal's High Security
Animal Diseases Laboratory (HSADL) and is awaiting the results.
ARD officials have not publicly commented on these new bird
deaths.

5. (U) Officials responding to the H5N1 outbreak in Tripura (and
in West Bengal) are still grappling with cross-border issues. In
Tripura, large tracts of land within the 3-mile culling radius
are in Bangladesh. Bangladesh's Moulavibazar village - which is
currently in the middle of an H5N1 outbreak, according to Post
contacts - is less than 500 meters across the border from
Tripura's Mohanpur. West Bengal's Balurghat, Gitaldaha, and
Malda towns, which experienced H5N1 outbreaks between January
and March, faced a similar problem although it was not known
whether nearby areas in Bangladesh were witnessing H5N1
outbreaks simultaneously. Although the GOI has urged Tripura to
look into the possibility of district level joint operations
with Bangladesh, Post contacts in Tripura and West Bengal say
that no such cooperation has occurred yet.

6. (U) COMMENT: West Bengal and Tripura have identified culling
areas that cross across the porous international border with
Bangladesh. District administrators in India say they maintain
informal liaisons with their counterparts in Bangladesh, but do
not have a mandate to launch joint H5N1 containment operations.
A regional or international mechanism for outbreak response and

KOLKATA 00000128 002.2 OF 002


prevention would have a positive impact on efforts to manage AI
outbreaks in this region.
JARDINE

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