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Cablegate: Avian Influenza: Poultry Vaccinations in Southern Vietnam

VZCZCXRO0392
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHNH RUEHPB
DE RUEHHM #0810/01 2061303
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 251303Z JUL 06
FM AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 1194
INFO RUEHHM/AMCONSUL HO CHI MINH CITY 1256
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI 0867
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEHUL/AMEMBASSY SEOUL 0008
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO 0008
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG 0076
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU 0008
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU 0007
RUEHIN/AIT TAIPEI 0019
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/USDA FAS WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHINGTON DC
RUEKJCS/CJCS WASHINGTON DC//J2/J3/J5//
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC//DHO-3//
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI//J00/J2/J3/J5//
RHEFAFM/DIRAFMIC FT DETRICK MD//MA-1A//

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 HO CHI MINH CITY 000810

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR G, CA/OCS/ACS/EAP, EAP/EX, EAP/MLS, EAP/EP, INR, OES/ST
STATE PASS TO USAID FOR ANE AND GH (DCARROLL, SCLEMENTS AND PCHAP
STATE PASS TO USTR (EBRYAN)
STATE PASS TO HHS/OGHA (WSTIEGER, EELVANDER AND ABHAT)
USDA PASS TO APHIS
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE FOR OSD/ISA/AP (LSTERN)
BANGKOK FOR RMO, CDC, USAID (MFRIEDMAN, JMACARTHUR AND MBRADY)
ROME FOR FAO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KFLU AMED AMGT CASC EAGR PINR SOCI VM
SUBJECT: AVIAN INFLUENZA: POULTRY VACCINATIONS IN SOUTHERN VIETNAM

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REF: 05 HCMC 0891 B) 05 HCMC 0855 C) 05 HCMC 1269

HO CHI MIN 00000810 001.2 OF 003


1. (SBU) Summary: In recent meetings, the Directors of the HCMC
and Mekong Delta Regional Animal Health Centers told us that
they are generally satisfied with the results of the Avian
Influenza (AI) poultry vaccination campaign. The last poultry
outbreak in the Mekong Delta and South-Central regions of
Vietnam occurred in April 2005. The GVN's interpretation of the
post-immunization surveillance shows that, on average, 70
percent of poultry tested positive for antibodies four months
after vaccination, which is the minimum acceptable standard.
However, lower antibody rates for ducks, the primary vector for
AI, may require more frequent vaccination than the current twice
yearly schedule. Wide variations in the presence of vaccine
antibodies in different flocks in various provinces also may
indicate problems in the vaccination program or in
post-vaccination surveillance. End Summary.

2. (SBU) In mid-June, EconOff met with Dr. Nguyen Xuan Binh,
Vice Director of the Ho Chi Minh City Regional Animal Health
Center, and Nguyen Ba Thanh, Director of the Can Tho Regional
Center, to discuss the results of the 2005 poultry vaccinations
and prospects for the 2006 program. The centers, representing
two of six total in Vietnam, cover 23 provinces from the Mekong
Delta to the South-Central province of Ninh Thuan. The centers
are responsible for inspection, prevention, and disease
diagnosis.

3. (SBU) The Directors said that the vaccination program
consists of two injections administered in the spring and fall.
Although birds are supposed to be vaccinated every six months,
the actual gap between vaccinations could be as long as eight
months. In the event of an outbreak, birds within three
kilometers of an infection site are re-vaccinated.

4. (SBU) In 2005, in the region covered by the HCMC Center, 42
percent, or 21 million of 50 million poultry, were vaccinated.
Of the vaccinated stock, nineteen million backyard birds were
immunized with Chinese-manufactured vaccines (costing between
VND 250-300 or 1.6-1.9 U.S. cents per dose) while an additional
2.1 million farm-raised chickens were inoculated with vaccines
produced by the Dutch company Intervet (costing between VND
450-650 or 2.8-4.1 U.S. cents per dose).

5. (SBU) In the first half of 2006, approximately 30 million
poultry were vaccinated, 21 million backyard chickens and ducks
and an additional 9 million in commercial farms. The Director
added that the central government funds the purchase of vaccines
for backyard poultry while private farms cover the costs of
their programs. Of the roughly VND 500 billion (USD 31 million)
the GVN spends on the national vaccination program, VND 80
billion (USD 5 million) is allocated to the HCMC Regional Center
and VND 60 billion (USD 3,750,000) to the Can Tho/Mekong Delta
Center. The second dose of the vaccine will be administered
beginning in August/September of 2006 with completion scheduled
for year's end.

6. (SBU) Can Tho Center Director Thanh confirmed that the Mekong
Delta region followed the same vaccine protocol as HCMC; he was
unable or unwilling to provide a synopsis of 2005's vaccination
program. He claimed that during the first half of 2006, 15
million of the Mekong Delta's 16 to 17 million poultry were
vaccinated. Between 750,000 and 1.5 million of these birds were
reportedly housed in commercial farms.


HO CHI MIN 00000810 002.2 OF 003


Post-Vaccination Testing
------------------------

7. (SBU) The Centers' Directors told us that poultry flocks in
vaccinated provinces are randomly checked at one month and four
months after vaccination. Regional health officials check for
the presence of vaccine antibodies in live poultry and for signs
of the virus in bird feces. The HCMC region tests an average
of three flocks per province while the Can Tho Regional Center
tests two. (For example, in Long An Province (which belongs to
the HCMC Animal Health Region), 840 live birds were tested and
3,360 dropping samples were collected.) According to HCMC
Center data, one month following vaccination, between 78 and 82
percent of birds tested positive for vaccine antibodies. (The
numbers were 80.6 percent for chickens and 79.6 percent for
ducks.) No virus loads were detected in bird feces. However,
at four months, the average presence of vaccine antibodies in
ducks dropped to 43 percent, while the rate in chickens was 70
percent. Moreover, antibody rates in tested duck flocks ranged
from 15 to 96 percent. According to the Can Tho Center, its
tests showed that ducks had higher immunity than chickens after
the four-month mark. The Center Director claimed that ducks in
the Delta are better cared for and more properly contained than
in HCMC. However, he was unwilling or unable to provide data to
back up these assertions.

Lingering Questions Over Vaccine Efficacy
-----------------------------------------

8. (SBU) In 2005, Dutch vaccine producer Intervet raised
questions about the quality of the Chinese-made vaccine, arguing
that there was not sufficient published data to confirm its
effectiveness (ref B). At least some Vietnamese scientists
appear to continue to share these concerns. Nguyen Huu Hung,
Deputy Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at Can Tho
University, complained that GVN research laboratories maintain a
monopoly on vaccine testing. Can Tho University, while
technically able to conduct such tests, has been prohibited from
both sequencing the AI virus and conducting trials on the
Chinese-made vaccine's effectiveness. Hung said that his GVN
colleagues had cited biosafety as the primary reason, even
though universities such as Can Tho have conducted such tests on
other virus strains in the past. Hung said that the twice a
year vaccination schedule was recommended by the Chinese vaccine
producers, but he felt that a three-times yearly vaccination
schedule was more appropriate for vaccination of backyard bird
flocks in Vietnam.

9. (SBU) Comment: The Vietnamese authorities claim that their
culling, surveillance and vaccination campaign has been a
success. Although the H5N1 virus is still considered endemic
within the Vietnamese poultry and waterfowl stocks, there has
not been an AI outbreak in poultry in Vietnam over the past
seven months and no poultry outbreaks in the southern regions of
Vietnam over the past 16 months. That said, several concerns
exist. The lower antibody rate in ducks, the primary vector for
AI, may indicate that duck flocks require more frequent
vaccinations. Additionally, the wide variation in the presence
of vaccine antibodies in different flocks in various provinces
may indicate either that some vaccines are ineffective, that
post-vaccination studies are not accurate, or that vaccines are
not being administered evenly to at-risk flocks in all
provinces. Finally, the Can Tho Regional Center Director
reported that he had heard the GVN is considering reducing

HO CHI MIN 00000810 003.2 OF 003


central-level funding of the vaccination program and would like
to turn over funding responsibility to the provinces. Without
strong central-level funding, the effectiveness of the
vaccination program may degrade. End Comment.
CHERN

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