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Cablegate: Nigeria Avian Flu Update: Southwestern Outbreaks

VZCZCXRO8597
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ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 250831Z SEP 06
FM AMEMBASSY ABUJA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7244
INFO RUEHZO/AFRICAN UNION COLLECTIVE
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RHFMISS/CDR USEUCOM VAIHINGEN GE
RUEHRN/USMISSION UN ROME 0022
RUFOADA/JAC MOLESWORTH RAF MOLESWORTH UK
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEKDIA/DIA WASHDC
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC//USDP/ASD-HD//
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 ABUJA 002508

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

USDA FAS WASHDC FOR FAA/RANDY HAGER
USDA FOR APHIS/JOHN SHAW
USDA FOR WAYNE MOLSTAD/OSEC
USAID/W FOR AFR/WA ANGELA LOZANO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KFLU AMED EAGR EAID NI AVIANFLU
SUBJECT: NIGERIA AVIAN FLU UPDATE: SOUTHWESTERN OUTBREAKS

REF: ABUJA 2238

ABUJA 00002508 001.2 OF 002


1. (SBU) Summary. Cooperation between the Ministries of
Agriculture, Information, and Health on the issue of avian influenza
(AI) remains an issue, and relations between Agriculture and Health
officials remain tense over the extent of AI in Nigeria and whether
to authorize poultry vaccinations. The government's continued
overall lack of focus against AI contributes to the inaccurate
public perception that the virus's threat has abated. The Ministry
of Agriculture (MOA) opposes vaccinations and contends AI is under
control, despite current outbreaks in Lagos and Ogun States. Poor
poultry-feed distribution practices contribute significantly to AI's
spread in the southwest, as contaminated feed sacks carry the virus
with them. The MOA says improper vaccinations by farmers also are
contributing to AI's spread. End summary.

2. (SBU) Cooperation between Nigeria's Ministries of Agriculture,
Information, and Health on the issue of avian influenza (AI) remains
an issue and relations between Agriculture and Health officials are
tense, including over whether to authorize poultry vaccinations.
The current extent of AI in Nigeria, and whether the Government of
Nigeria (GON) should permit poultry inoculations, are the main
issues dividing the latter two ministries. The government's
continued overall lack of focus against AI contributes to the
inaccurate public perception that the virus's threat has abated.

3. (U) Nigeria's chief veterinary officer (CVO) said August 24 at
the GON AI Interministerial Committee meeting that despite the
current AI outbreaks in Lagos and Ogun States (details remain
sketchy, though Lagos State appears to have suffered outbreaks on 25
to 40 farms), there was no cause for alarm. The CVO said AI has
abated and is going away in Nigeria, and the situation could be
managed using existing resources.

4. (U) In particular, MOA officials have told USG officials they
oppose vaccinations. The reason given are that available vaccines
use live AI fowl pox; available vaccines confer immunity for only
two months; the country would need 715 five-man teams to cover 30%
of village and backyard flocks and 75% of commercial flocks for one
month at an estimated cost of $0.20-0.57 per dose; and the
possibility exists of introducing a new "strain/serotype" of the
virus, as may be the case with foot and mouth disease. The CVO
expressed concern that the National Agency for Food and Drug
Administration and Control (NAFDAC) had permitted the import of AI
vaccines, whose mandate comes under the MOA. The CVO demanded that
NAFDAC be directed to recall all AI vaccines. He said emphatically
it was his decision when or whether to vaccinate poultry in Nigeria,
and he declared it forbidden. The CVO and some other GON officials,
as well as the GON's policy, continue to oppose vaccination.

5. (SBU) Comment: The CVO likely believes that GON resources are
inadequate to carry out inoculations properly, especially
considering the poultry sector's fragmented nature. Ministry of
Agriculture officials appear to be basing at least some of their
opposition to vaccinations on incorrect information. The Web site
of the Dutch animal-vaccine manufacturer Intervet says recommended
AI vaccines are "inactivated (not live)" and that vaccines'
efficacy, following two properly administered injections, is one
year. The GON's level of technical competency on the issue of
vaccinations is not clear. Internationally, the regulation of
veterinary drugs typically resides with a CVO or a similar official.
Also, the U.S. Mission has received reports of NAFDAC-recognized
medical doctors offering advice to poultry farmers on vaccinations,
which is cause for concern. End comment.

6. (U) The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), however,
recommends that a consultant carry out in Nigeria's north and
southwest an assessment of the scope of vaccinations against highly
pathogenic avian influenza. The terms of reference for this study
would be established by the MOA and the FAO. Such a study could
provide the GON with convincing evidence of the benefits of
vaccination. The Ministry of Health, the FAO/World Organization for
Animal Health, and the Veterinary Association of Nigeria think the
GON should implement a controlled vaccination program, because they
believe AI no longer can be controlled in Nigeria.


ABUJA 00002508 002.2 OF 002


Reasons to vaccinate commercial flocks in Nigeria
--------------------------------------------- ----

7. (U) Supporters of poultry inoculations believe the GON should
authorize vaccinations of commercial flocks for a combination of
reasons:

-- Commercial producers are already employing poor vaccination
procedures and, regardless of what the CVO directs, will continue to
vaccinate using a variety of unregulated vaccines.

-- Owners of large commercial flocks can afford professional
services and already use trained veterinary services. They could
implement a proper vaccination program if the MOA legally permitted
this.

-- Nigeria's large size and the thinness of its rural highway police
force mean the GON cannot effectively control poultry products'
movement.
-- Controlling AI's spread among medium and small poultry farms
cannot reasonably be expected in the short term because of the lack
of proper training and the failure to implement biosecurity
measures.

-- Even with adequate biosecurity training, farms' layout, method of
construction, and the feed systems on medium and small farms are not
conducive to good biosecurity. Even if the proper procedures are
implemented, avenues for AI's spread will continue: unscreened
buildings permit the entry of wild birds and rodents, dirt floors
are difficult to decontaminate, and porous, rough-cut lumber cannot
be sanitized.

Flawed feed procedures in Nigeria spread AI
-------------------------------------------

8. (U) A USAID Abuja officer with substantial experience in
commercial-sector animal disease control expressed serious concern
about the continuing spread of H5N1 in southwestern Nigeria's
commercial poultry sector, resulting from the industry's method of
feed delivery. To achieve world-class commercial biosecurity, it is
necessary to deliver animal feed in bulk and to minimize recycling
or farm contact with feed-delivery mechanisms or articles,
especially recycled feed sacks. Nigeria's small and medium
commercial poultry farms do not use the bulk delivery of feed.
Farms take delivery of feed in nylon sacks that are reused and
recycled many times, because of the bags' high relative cost and the
lack of automated feed-delivery systems.

9. (U) Poultry feed is delivered from farm to farm in bags and is
physically carried into each poultry house, where the sacks become
contaminated with poultry dust and feces while being poured into
poultry feeders. The sacks act as a robust disease vector. The
contaminated feed bags then are taken back to the feed mill, where
they are refilled and delivered to another poultry farm. The entire
feed mill becomes contaminated as the bags, including new sacks,
touch the floor and various pieces of equipment.

10. (U) AI then spreads rapidly through the portion of the
commercial sector supplied by a particular feed mill. The only
Nigerian poultry farms immune from this are those that produce all
their own feed and that also do not sell feed to outside farms --
but most large farms with their own feed mill sell bags of feed to
smaller farms. It is very likely the farms that rapidly became
infected in Lagos and Ogun States shared the same feed-mill
processing center.

11. (U) The USAID officer expressed to the CVO and the local FAO
representative his concerns about feed-sack contamination. He
recommended that they issue a brochure, to be delivered to the
Poultry Association of Nigeria and commercial feed mills, which
would recommend: Buy disposable paper sacks from a local cement
factory for use in interim feed delivery and dispersal and burn the
paper bags after use. When recycled, nylon feed sacks should be
soaked in disinfectant for three minutes and then dried before
refilling. Do not take nylon feed sacks into a poultry house, but
rather pour feed into buckets for carrying into poultry houses.

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