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Cablegate: Zimbabwe Takes Cautionary Approach On Detected

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

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 HARARE 001655

SIPDIS

AF/S FOR BNEULING
OES/IHA FOR DR. DANIEL SINGER, REBECCA DALEY
INR/GI RAYMOND LESTER
NSC FOR SENIOR AFRICA DIRECTOR C. COURVILLE
USDOC FOR ROBERT TELCHIN
TREASURY FOR J. RALYEA, B. CUSHMAN
PASS USTR FOR FLORIZELLE LISER
STATE PASS USAID FOR MARJORIE COPSON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO SENV ECON ETRD EAGR EAID PREL ZI
SUBJECT: ZIMBABWE TAKES CAUTIONARY APPROACH ON DETECTED
AVIAN FLU

REF: A. A) SECSTATE 216147
B. B) HARARE 1576

-------
Summary
-------

1. (SBU) Government sources confirmed that avian influenza
(AI) was found in several ostriches in southwestern Zimbabwe
had a strain of AI. However, further testing showed it was
not the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain. A poultry quarantine
and export ban had been initially imposed but was expected to
be lifted soon. Embassy health officials are now represented
on the two GOZ taskforces that are addressing AI control. So
far, the GOZ appears to have followed appropriate, proactive
procedures with respect to AI. End Summary.

--------------------------------
Non-Threatening Flu Strain Found
--------------------------------

2. (SBU) In response to reftel request, Poloff met with
Zimbabwe Poultry Association President Peter Drummond on
December 1, who mentioned that routine surveillance had
detected several otherwise healthy ostriches in Matabeleland
in southwestern Zimbabwe with the H5-typed AI. Drummond said
further testing was being done but he did not believe it was
H5N1 strain (see para x for post response to reftel.)

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3. (SBU) Ministry of Agriculture Director of Veterinary
Services Dr. Stuart Hargreaves confirmed to post CDC officers
the positive test results and said his service had notified
the appropriate government agencies. Hargreaves said
Zimbabwean labs could identify the H5 virus but not the
particular strain (i.e. N1 or N2). He had therefore ordered
further testing of the samples in South Africa and Europe.
On December 6, Hargreaves office called CDC to report that
the further tests had identified the AI strain as H5N2, not
the highly pathogenic H5N1 strain recently found in Asia and
Europe.

4. (SBU) Pending identification of the strain, the GOZ had
initially quarantined all poultry in Zimbabwe, effectively
banning exports. According to Drummond, with confirmation
that the strain was not the H5N1 variety the GOZ planned to
announce a lifting of the quarantine on December 8.

------------------
GOZ AI Task Forces
------------------

5. (SBU) The GOZ now has two separate AI taskforces, one
addressing veterinary control measures led by the Ministry of
Agriculture (MOA) and the other addressing human and
human-animal control measures led by the Ministry of Health
and Child Welfare (MOH). The MOH task force, in which post
CDC officers participate, learned about the AI positive test
results as a result of our inquiries. To improve
communication between the two bodies, CDC sought and obtained
a seat on the MOA task force as well.

--------------------------
Response to Reftel Tasking
--------------------------

6. (U) In response to post's inquiry on AI-related import
restrictions (ref A), Drummond stated that the GOZ had not
restricted the importation of poultry or poultry products,
nor had the industry experienced a decline in consumer demand
for poultry and/or poultry products.

-------
Comment
-------
7. (SBU) The formation of AI task forces by the GOZ and the
precautionary actions taken by Hargreaves would seem to
indicate that the GOZ has been taking AI seriously and
instituting the right measures to handle an outbreak. That
said, bureaucratic coordination poses an impediment that we
hope to help the Ministries involved overcome in the future.
SCHULTZ

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