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Cablegate: Spain: Addressing the Threat of Avian Influenza

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

UNCLAS MADRID 003074

SIPDIS

DEPARTMENT FOR UNDERSECRETARY DOBRIANSKY, EUR/WE, AND
OES/IHA; USDA FOR FAS AND APHIS; HHS FOR OGHA; GENEVA FOR
WHO; ROME FOR FAO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO ECON PREL SOCI SP KSTH WHO
SUBJECT: SPAIN: ADDRESSING THE THREAT OF AVIAN INFLUENZA

REF: SECSTATE 153802

1. ESTHOFF made reftel points August 23 to Health Ministry
Deputy Director General Jose Perez Lazaro, requesting the
contact details of the GOS Avian Influenza POC. Perez Lazaro
informed ESTHOFF August 30 that the GOS Health Ministry POC
(for possible transmission to humans) would be Director
General for Public Health Manuel Onorbe de Torre. Phone:
(34) (91) 596-2062. Fax: (34) (91) 596-4409. EMail:
dgsp@msc.es. Perez Lazaro said the Agriculture Ministry
would retain the lead for issues related to the transmission
of Avian Influenza among animals. The POC for these issues
is Deputy Director General for Animal Health Arnaldo Cabello
Navarro. Phone: (34) (91) 347-8295.

2. Perez Lazaro underscored that the Health and Agriculture
Ministries were cooperating closely on Spain's borders to
help prevent Avian Influenza from reaching Spain. Both
ministries have ordered intensified checks on the borders and
the Agriculture Ministry has distributed "rapid test" kits to
border regions. The Health Ministry, for its part, has
ordered two million antiviral treatments ("Tamiflu") to
combat the possibility of an epidemic among the human
population.

3. The Agriculture Ministry has had a "National Vigilance
Against Avian Influenza Program" in place since 2003 that has
detected no/no cases of Avian Influenza since its inception.
The Ministry believes that a spread to Spain remains
"improbable." The Spanish authorities reportedly believe
that avian migration patterns make northern Europe more
vulnerable than the south. Should that calculation change,
Spain would not find it too difficult to take measures
similar to Holland (keeping poultry indoors), as only four
percent of Spanish birds are currently kept outside (compared
to over 40 percent in Germany, according to the press).

4. COMMENT: The GOS did not respond to our demarche until
after the August 25 emergency EU meeting called to coordinate
Europe's response to the threat. Spain's relatively
unalarmed response tracks with our understanding of the
results of the EU session, which reportedly characterized the
immediate risk of Avian Influenza spreading to the EU as
"remote" or "low." That said, Spain is not ignoring the
threat and, like most of its EU partners, has stepped up both
its border vigilance and its efforts to combat any possible
human epidemic.
AGUIRRE

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