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Cablegate: Vietnam - Avian Flu (Ai) Update #9

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

061034Z Feb 04

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HANOI 000333

SIPDIS

FOR CA/OCS/ACS/EAP; EAP/EX; EAP/BCLTV
BANGKOK FOR RMO, CDC, AID (TDOLAN)
STATE PASS HHS for Marie Haring Sweeney
USDA FOR FAS/PASS TO APHIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AMED AMGT CASC EAGR TBIO VM AFLU
SUBJECT: VIETNAM - AVIAN FLU (AI) UPDATE #9

REFS: A) Hanoi 302 B) Hanoi 321

--------------
CURRENT STATUS
--------------

1. (U) LOCAL MEDIA REPORTS INDICATE 15 CASES OF LABORATORY-
CONFIRMED H5 INFLUENZA IN HUMANS. WE HAVE NOT YET BEEN ABLE
TO CONFIRM THIS FIGURE WITH THE WHO INVESTIGATIVE TEAM.

----------------------------
GVN BRIEFING FOR AMBASSADORS
----------------------------

2. (U) A GVN briefing for Ambassadors on 5 February laid
out GVN efforts to address avian flu. They described the
creation of the National Steering Committee, and delegation
of oversight for control in provinces to cabinet members as
reported ref B. The Prime Minister has declared that
Vietnam will have avian influenza (AI) under control "by the
end of February." Provinces have been instructed to take
all necessary measures, and all Ministries have been
instructed to make AI their most urgent and central task.
The GVN reported that 10.7 million birds have been infected,
and 14.2 million birds have been destroyed. When infected
birds are discovered, the GVN orders the culling of all
birds in a three-kilometer radius. This is to take place
within two days in a rural setting or within seven days in
an urban setting. All cullers must wear Personal Protective
Equipment. Ministerial forces will halt the transportation
of poultry - this includes the Ministry of Public Security
(which includes the police), the Ministry of Health, and
"market forces".

3. (U) The GVN further thanked all present for the support
and assistance received already, highlighting WHO, FAO, OIE,
CDC, JICA, Asian Development Bank, and World Bank. They
noted that they look forward to further assistance now
(highlighting as needs: diagnostic equipment for the
Department of Animal Health, experts to train Vietnamese
veterinarians, PPE, and medication for human cases) and in
the future (to help restore the poultry industry.) The GVN
particularly noted that they will seek international
cooperation to improve the agricultural sector and change
current practices to more sustainable practices.

--------------------------------------
WHO BRIEFING FOR HCMC DIPLOMATIC CORPS
---------------------------------------

4. (U) WHO provided a briefing to the diplomatic corps in
HCMC similar to the meeting in Hanoi, reported ref A. New
information of note included comments on vaccinating
poultry. WHO indicated that while the vaccine for birds
might prevent birds from getting sick, it would not prevent
them from carrying or transmitting the disease. WHO also
noted that the GVN sees the outbreak as an agricultural
disaster and tourist problem, not as a public health threat.

----------------------
IMPACT ON US COMPANIES
----------------------


5. (U) KENTUCKY FRIED CHICKEN RESTAURANTS ARE SUFFERING
UNDER THE BAN ON THE SALE OF CHICKEN AND CHICKEN PRODUCTS.
THEY HAVE BEEN EXPLORING THE POSSIBILITY OF IMPORTING
FROZEN, PREPARED CHICKEN FROM THE US. UNFORTUNATELY, WE
HAVE BEEN GIVEN CONFLICTING RESPONSES. INITIALLY, OUR
AGRICULTURAL ATTACHE (FAS) WAS TOLD THAT NO IMPORTS OF
CHICKEN PRODUCTS WOULD BE ALLOWED BECAUSE OF A VERY MINOR,
VERY LOW-PATHENOGENIC (CONTAGION) STRAIN OF AI THAT IS
PRESENT IN THE US. WHEN FAS TRIED TO PUSH THE ISSUE, HE WAS
TOLD THAT NO CHICKEN OR CHICKEN PRODUCT IMPORTS WOULD BE
ALLOWED AT ALL - FROM ANY COUNTRY. IN THE GVN BRIEFING FOR
AMBASSADORS, AMBASSADOR BURGHARDT ASKED WHETHER IMPORTS WERE
ALLOWED, AND WAS TOLD THAT IMPORTS FROM AFFECTED COUNTRIES
ONLY ARE BANNED. CHICKEN AND CHICKEN PRODUCTS CAN CONTINUE
TO BE IMPORTED TO VIETNAM FROM NON-AFFECTED COUNTRIES. FAS
WILL CONTINUE TO FOLLOW THE ISSUE.

6. (U) HCMC ECON OFFICER SPOKE WITH CARGILL'S COUNTRY
REPRESENTATIVE, CHANH TRUONG. TRUONG STATED THAT HE EXPECTS
THE COMPANY TO LOSE SEVEN HUNDRED THOUSAND TO ONE MILLION
DOLLARS IN VIETNAM DUE TO AI. ANTICIPATED LOSSES WILL BE
DUE TO THE EXPECTED CULLING IN THE DONG NAI HATCHERY, AND
RESTOCKING OF EGGS, BIRDS, UNUSED MATERIALS, AND VACCINES.
THE CARGILL HATCHERY IN DONG NAI HAS NOT BEEN CULLED, AND
LOCAL AUTHORITIES HAVE YET TO ASK THEM TO DO SO. TRUONG
REPORTED THAT, IN ADDITION TO THE BAN ON SALES OF CHICKEN
AND CHICKEN PRODUCTS, THE GVN IS NOT ALLOWING THEM TO SELL
BIRD FEED. THIS COULD RESULT IN REDUCED PRODUCTION BY THREE
TO FOUR THOUSAND TONS PER MONTH, AT APPROXIMATELY $50 PER
TON. HE DID NOTE, HOWEVER, THAT THEIR SALES OF FISH FEEDS
HAVE INCREASED IN THE CURRENT ENVIRONMENT. CARGILL HAS
CONSIDERED VACCINATING THEIR POULTRY, BUT THE GVN IS NOT
ALLOWING THEM TO DO SO, AS PER PREVIOUS WHO ADVICE.

7. (U) FAS NOTES THAT THE MAJORITY OF CARGILL SALES IN
VIETNAM ARE IN PIG AND FISH FEED AND BELIEVES THAT THE GVN
BAN ON SALE OF CHICKEN FEED IS AN ATTEMPT TO LIMIT MOVEMENT
OF TRUCKS FROM FARM TO FARM AND DISCOURAGE THE RAISING OF
CHICKENS. THE UNINTENDED EFFECTS MAY BE THAT FARMERS
PRODUCE LOW-QUALITY HOMEMADE FEED OR SLAUGHTER HEALTHY
CHICKENS.
BURGHARDT

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