Cablegate: Avian Flu Outbreak Does Not Pose Significant

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



E.O. 12958: N/A

1. SUMMARY: The H9N2 strain of avian flu virus
detected in the northern governorates does not pose a
significant health risk to humans. The GOI is
responding and developing response and prevention
plans. An Embassy task force is following the
situation and assisting the GOI as necessary and
appropriate. END SUMMARY.

2. On October 11, Kurdish farmers in Irbil and
Sulaymaniyah notified local government officials of
several thousand poultry deaths. Kurdish officials
requested USG assistance to investigate. On October
13, a virology-veterinary expert from the Naval
Medical Research Unit (NAMRU) in Cairo, which serves
as the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional
Reference Laboratory, took samples from six birds on
one farm in Irbil. The test results indicated that
the birds were infected with the H9N2 strain of avian
influenza. The NAMRU test results agreed with tests
done by the Iraqi Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) in
February during an earlier outbreak of poultry deaths.
The NAMRU test results also correlate with the H9N2
strain detected in eastern Turkey.

3. The GOI is responding to the H9N2 outbreak by:

-- Contacting the WHO for assistance with procedures
and equipment;
-- Prohibiting the importation of chicken products and
-- Conducting a media campaign to educate farmers and
the general population;
-- Requiring regular reporting of any abnormal bird
and poultry situations;
-- Prohibiting the hunting, consumption, and transport
of migratory birds.

In addition, the Kurdish Ministries of Agriculture and
Health have invited the central Baghdad ministries to
participate in meetings in Sulaymaniyah to develop
further response and prevention plans for the Kurdish
governorates. The Kurdish governorates also are doing
further testing of poultry farms to determine the
extent of infection. The Ministries of Agriculture
and Health in Baghdad are standing up a working group
to develop unified, Iraq-wide response and prevention

4. An Embassy task force -- led by IRMO and including
the Health Attache, MNF-I, USDA, USAID, Public
Affairs, and ECON -- is following the avian flu
situation and assisting the GOI as necessary and

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