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Cablegate: Avian Influenza Outbreak Q Bangladesh

VZCZCXRO1282
OO RUEHCI RUEHHM
DE RUEHKA #1061/01 2821337
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 081337Z OCT 08
FM AMEMBASSY DHAKA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 7509
INFO RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0689
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0340
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI 0860
RUEHIL/AMEMBASSY ISLAMABAD 2371
RUEHKT/AMEMBASSY KATHMANDU 9888
RUEHLM/AMEMBASSY COLOMBO 8644
RUEHBK/AMEMBASSY BANGKOK 8528
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 0145
RUEHVN/AMEMBASSY VIENTIANE 0058
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 1484
RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 0037

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DHAKA 001061

AIDAC
SIPDIS

USDA FOR DEPUTY UNDER SECRETARY/ETERPSTRA
USDA FOR OFSO/JDEYER
USDA FOR FAS/OA/MYOST/WKMILLER
USDA FOR FAS/OCRA/CALEXANDER/JCARVER
USDA FOR FAS/OSTA/CHAMILTON
USDA FOR APHIS/MFLEMINGS/TBURLESON
SEOUL FOR APHIS/GEORGE ANDY BALL
DEPARTMENT FOR SA/PB, EB/TPP, AIAG HREED-ROWE
NEW DELHI FOR FAS OLIVER FLAKE

E.O.12356: N/A
TAGS: KFLU EAGR ECON ETRD IN WTO CASC BG
SUBJECT: AVIAN INFLUENZA OUTBREAK Q BANGLADESH

Summary
-------

1. 1. A new outbreak of Highly-Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) in
poultry occurred in Bangladesh September 24. HPAI was first officially
reported in Bangladesh in March 2007. Since that time, outbreaks of
HPAI (H5) in poultry have been reported or confirmed on 288 farms. One
human HPAI case was confirmed in March 2008. Historically, most of the
HPAI outbreaks in Bangladesh have occurred during the months of January
through May.

Most Recent Outbreak
--------------------

2. After several months without a recurrence of avian influenza (AI)
in Bangladesh, authorities reported a new outbreak on September 24. A
chicken farm with a population of approximately 1,100 birds in Naogoan
district, in northwestern Bangladesh, reported unusual poultry
mortality to the Government of Bangladesh (GOB). (NOTE: Naogaon
borders the Indian state of West Bengal. END NOTE.) GOB veterinarians
from the Department of Livestock Services (DLS) investigated the farm
and took samples for testing. At that time, the rapid antigen test for
Influenza A was negative. The rapid antigen test, as with many other
screening tests, can sometimes yield inaccurate results.

3. Necropsies (animal autopsies) on chickens from the farm led local
experts to conclude initially that Newcastle disease was the cause of
death. In Bangladesh, there is no policy or protocol for culling
chickens infected with Newcastle, so no further action was taken by the
GOB at that time.

4. Over the next week, poultry at that farm continued to die. By
September 29, approximately 760 more birds were dead, and the farmer
requested DLS veterinarians return for further investigation. Samples
taken on September 29 tested positive for Influenza A by rapid antigen
test. As per GOB guidelines established in April 2008, culling of the
farmQs chickens began immediately after the positive Influenza A
result. Workers depopulated the farm of its remaining 340 birds, and
they cleaned and disinfected the farm. (NOTE: Prior to the April
guidelines, the GOB would delay culling and containment measures until
confirmation of the rapid antigen test results of the H5 virus was
received from BangladeshQs national reference laboratory. END NOTE.)

5. The samples taken on September 29 were sent to the Bangladesh
National Reference Lab for AI (BLRI) to determine if the Influenza A
virus detected was indeed H5. On October 7, authorities confirmed to
USAID Bangladesh that H5 caused this outbreak. The N type determination
will be made at a World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) reference
laboratory as this technology does not exist in Bangladesh. GOB
officials noted that the Eid-ul-Fitr holiday delayed confirmation of
the H5 virus by their national reference laboratory.

Background
----------

6. The GOB first officially reported Highly-Pathogenic Avian Influenza
(HPAI) among poultry in Bangladesh in March 2007. Since that time,
outbreaks of HPAI (H5) in poultry have been reported or confirmed on
288 farms in 47 of BangladeshQs 64 districts. Seventy-five percent of
these outbreaks occurred on commercial farms. Officials confirmed one
human HPAI case in March 2008; that person, a child, fully recovered.

7. In September 2007, about half of the countryQs poultry population
existed on approximately 150,000 large and small commercial facilities,
with the other half situated on small backyard farms. Currently, more
than half of BangladeshQs small farms have ceased poultry production,
as a result of both the negative impact of HPAI on consumer confidence

DHAKA 00001061 002 OF 002


and the ripple effect in the supply chain as larger commercial holdings
affected by AI shut down and were unable to re-enter the industry. As
more than five million Bangladeshis are involved directly or indirectly
in the poultry industry, HPAI is not only a health concern, but an
economic concern as well.

Timing of Outbreaks
-------------------

8. Historically, most of the HPAI outbreaks in Bangladesh have
occurred during between January and May. Many different factors
contribute to this apparent trend:

--the possibility of more virus circulating in the environment at that
time,
--increased activity and trading in the industry during this period, or
--migratory birds may be re-introducing the virus.

9. Though the majority of outbreaks in Bangladesh have occurred
between January and May; outbreaks also were reported in September,
November and December 2007. Currently, it is impossible to determine
whether there are fewer outbreaks during different periods, or whether
there is simply low or no reporting of outbreaks outside the January to
May timeframe. Reduced reporting of outbreaks could be attributed to a
lack of awareness of AI in the absence of heavy media reporting on AI,
waning interest, competing priorities, or a gap in surveillance because
existing systems may not be able to detect isolated outbreaks. USAID,
GOB and the United NationsQ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO)
currently are discussing ways of investigating the apparent seasonality
of AI outbreaks in Bangladesh.

Comment
-------

10. Vietnam, Pakistan, and Laos have also reported outbreaks in
September 2008, illustrating that the virus continues to circulate in
other parts of Asia, as well as in Bangladesh. Some in Bangladesh had
hoped that since there had not been a confirmed AI outbreak here for
several months, the country might be AI-free. This most recent
outbreak indicates that avian influenza continues circulate in
Bangladesh.

MORIARTY

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