Search

 

Cablegate: Preventing Avian Influenza Along Burma's Borders

VZCZCXRO4609
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM RUEHNH
DE RUEHGO #0728/01 2610826
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 170826Z SEP 08
FM AMEMBASSY RANGOON
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8161
RUCNASE/ASEAN MEMBER COLLECTIVE
RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING 2036
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA 1519
RUEHKA/AMEMBASSY DHAKA 4984
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 5006
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 8601
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 6170
RUEHVI/AMEMBASSY VIENNA 0122
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 1577
RUEHCHI/AMCONSUL CHIANG MAI 1835
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 0428
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUCLRFA/USDA WASHDC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC
RUEKJCS/JOINT STAFF WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 RANGOON 000728

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MLS, G/AIAG
PACOM FOR FPA
USDA FOR FAS/PECAD, FAS/CNMP, FAS/AAD, APHIS
BANGKOK FOR USAID:JMACARTHUR, APHIS:NCARDENAS, REO:HHOWARD

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID AMED PGOV PREL CASC TBIO KFLU BM
SUBJECT: PREVENTING AVIAN INFLUENZA ALONG BURMA'S BORDERS

RANGOON 00000728 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary. Despite a 2006 GOB ban on the border trade of
poultry products, these products continue to enter Burma illegally
from avian influenza-infected countries, risking the importation of
the disease. Livestock Breeding Veterinary Department (LBVD)
officials, under the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, have
strengthened border control measures in 2008, seizing and culling
illegally imported poultry, but their actions have been limited to
eight official checkpoints. LBVD continues to strengthen
coordination with its counterparts in China, Thailand, and India,
sharing information on trans-boundary animal diseases, verifying
health certificates, and providing notifications of breaches in
trade regulations. Additionally, LBVD has launched additional
outreach along the Burma-China border, educating locals on the
dangers of avian influenza (AI). With limited resources, LBVD
officials appear to be doing what they can to keep Burma AI-free.
End Summary.

Regulating Poultry Imports
--------------------------

2. (SBU) Burma has experienced 10 AI outbreaks in poultry since
March 2006 and one human infection case in December 2007. Burma has
not yet had any AI outbreaks in 2008. Noting that the 2006 AI
strain was genetically similar to a virus found in Southern China,
Ministry of Livestock officials believed that the source of the
initial AI infection was either from imported poultry or wild birds
that entered Burma. Consequently, the Ministry banned the
importation of poultry and poultry products from any countries that
have had AI infections. According to Dr. Than Htun, Deputy Director
General of LBVD, to import poultry, a company must acquire a permit
and document the source of the poultry products. All poultry
imports must enter either through the airports in Rangoon or
Mandalay, which have poultry quarantine stations, he noted. In
2008, LBVD has permitted 13 local poultry farms to import day old
chicks and other poultry products from Australia, France, and the
Netherlands.

3. (SBU) Despite GOB import restrictions, poultry and poultry
products still enter through Burma's porous border, often illegally.
Burma shares a more than 4,000-mile border with China, Laos,
Thailand, Bangladesh, and India; trade contacts estimate that 2007
border trade totaled USD one billion. To regulate trade, the GOB
established eight border checkpoints -- Muse (along the China
border), Lisa (near China), Myawaddy and Kawthong (along the Thai
border), Maungdaw (near Bangladesh), Tamu (near India), Reekhawda
(near northern India) and Tachileik (on the Laos-Thai border) --
where Customs, police, and other officials monitor the legal flow of
goods into and out of Burma. However, officials at these
checkpoints are powerless to regulate trade along the rest of
Burma's largely porous border.

Preventing the Importation of AI
--------------------------------

5. (SBU) During the past two years, LBVD has more than doubled the
number of officials stationed at the eight border checkpoints. LBVD
staff verify the number and type of animals entering and exiting
Burma, check animal products and feed against import/export permits,
and authenticate health and laboratory certificates. According to
Dr. Than Htun, LBVD officials also monitor the health of animals and
animal products entering Burma, as well as confiscate and destroy
any illegal products.

6. (SBU) Dr. Than Htun admitted that illegal poultry imports
continue to be a problem, particularly along the China border.
While the GOB has no official data on illegal poultry imports, LBVD

RANGOON 00000728 002.2 OF 002


officials estimate that more than 5,000 birds cross Burma's border
illegally each day. In 2007, LBVD increased surveillance in key
townships, including Muse and Lashio in Shan State and Lisa in
Kachin State. This year, LBVD conducted additional outreach along
the China border, educating the local population on the dangers of
avian influenza and the best way to prevent the spread of the
disease among animals and humans. Dr. Than Htun proudly highlighted
several cases this year where LBVD officials seized more than 8,000
eggs and several hundred broiler chickens as they were illegally
being shipped over the border from China. Authorities followed
proper AI procedures, culling the chickens and disposing of the eggs
to prevent any possible transmission of AI, he explained.

Expanding Bilateral Cooperation
-------------------------------

7. (SBU) In addition to monitoring the border, LBVD officials have
also improved relations with the Chinese and Thai Veterinary
Departments, according to Dr. Than Htun. Currently, the three
agencies share information on trans-boundary animal diseases,
including AI and foot and mouth disease, verify veterinary health
certificates, and do cross training on laboratory capacities. They
also notify the exporting country of any non-compliance with animal
quarantine prohibitions, restrictions, or requirements, Dr. Than
Htun explained.

8. (SBU) In 2004, the Burmese and Chinese Governments jointly
established two animal quarantine laboratories in Muse and
Kyaingtone in Shan State, where veterinarians test animals for
diseases before they enter or leave Burma. The GOB also set up two
animal inspection points in Myawaddy and Tachileik along the Thai
border, where LBVD staff inspect incoming animals. According to
LBVD Director General U Maung Maung Nyunt, no animal quarantine
laboratories exist along the India-Burma and Bangladesh-Burma
borders, due to limited animal trade between the countries.
However, U Maung Maung Nyunt has sought to improve cooperation with
India and met with GOI officials in early September to discuss
cross-border animal disease control. LBVD plans to establish a
quarantine laboratory in Tamu, near India, within the next year, he
noted.

Comment
-------

9. (SBU) Although Burma has not had an AI outbreak in poultry
since November 2007, LBVD officials remain vigilant, taking concrete
steps to strengthen the national program and prevent future
outbreaks. The greatest threat comes from outside of Burma; as more
poultry and poultry products move across Burma's border,
particularly from China, the threat of a new AI outbreak increases.
LBVD admittedly does not have the staff or the capacity to monitor
the 4,000-mile border, so it must improve government-to-government
cooperation and expand educational outreach efforts. The Burmese
have come far in the past two years, openly discussing, sharing
information, and cooperating on AI issues with us and their
neighbors. Despite their success, they are their own worst critics.
Their honest assessment of their capabilities shows a real
understanding of the importance of preventing AI outbreaks and the
need to work with neighboring countries to prevent a regional
pandemic. We should continue to work with LBVD and the Ministry of
Health to strengthen their capabilities to combat this disease,
which knows no borders.

DINGER

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Werewolf: Gordon Campbell On North Korea, Neo-Nazism, And Milo

With a bit of luck the planet won’t be devastated by nuclear war in the next few days. US President Donald Trump will have begun to fixate on some other way to gratify his self-esteem – maybe by invading Venezuela or starting a war with Iran. More>>

Victory Declared: New Stabilisation Funding From NZ As Mosul Is Retaken

New Zealand has congratulated the Iraqi government on the successful liberation of Mosul from ISIS after a long and hard-fought campaign. More>>

Gordon Campbell: On The Current US Moves Against North Korea

If Martians visited early last week, they’d probably be scratching their heads as to why North Korea was being treated as a potential trigger for global conflict... More>>

ALSO:

Gordon Campbell: On The Lessons From Corbyn’s Campaign

Leaving partisan politics aside – and ignoring Jeremy Corbyn’s sensational election campaign for a moment – it has to be said that Britain is now really up shit creek... More>>

ALSO:

Another US Court: Fourth Circuit Rules Muslim Ban Discriminatory

ACLU: Step by step, point by point, the court laid out what has been clear from the start: The president promised to ban Muslims from the United States, and his executive orders are an attempt to do just that. More>>

ALSO: