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Cablegate: Czech Poultry Farm Hit by Avian Flu for the First Time

VZCZCXRO3179
RR RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHPG #0756 1731235
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 221235Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY PRAGUE
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9280
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC

UNCLAS PRAGUE 000756

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/NCE, G/AIAG

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU KSTH WHO MARR MASS CASA TBIO EZ
SUBJECT: CZECH POULTRY FARM HIT BY AVIAN FLU FOR THE FIRST TIME

REF: PRAGUE 370

1. Summary and comment: The Czech Government reported an outbreak
of avian flu June 20 at a turkey farm in Tisova, Pardubice Region
(130km east of Prague.) Laboratory tests revealed that the birds
were infected with the highly dangerous H5N1 virus. Strict
veterinary and sanitary measures are currently in place to ensure
the outbreak is contained. The quarantine measures will be
maintained for 30 days to ensure no new infections are discovered.
CR has a well-documented pandemic plan in place (reftel). Its
network of hygienic and veterinary stations and rescue agencies is
well prepared to deal with these smaller outbreaks. Czech
authorities took immediate action, adopted and enforced strict
preventive measures and minimized the impact of this infection. End
summary and comment.

Protective and sanitary measures adopted
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

2. Minister of Agriculture Petr Gandalovic publicly confirmed on
June 21 that the EU had been notified about the outbreak and that
the situation is under control. No poultry from this farm is
available in the retail food market since the birds had only half
the required weight. Gandalovic does not expect any limitation of
exports of Czech poultry to the EU in general.

3. Strict veterinary and sanitary rules have been implemented: All
poultry of the affected farm and in the whole village will be
destroyed by June 23. Two levels of quarantine have been
established: a 3-kilometer protection zone around the farm where all
poultry is currently being examined, and a 10-kilometer radius
surveillance zone where no poultry and eggs can be removed, and
where poultry must be kept closed-in for veterinarians to carry out
regular inspections. Minister of Health Tomas Julinek explained
that these measures are the same as those taken in response to the
2006 Avian Flu cases involving wild swans.

4. An estimated 350,000 birds are in the 10-kilometer surveillance
zone. Bird exhibitions and markets are banned, dogs must be walked
on a leash, and any bird found dead in the wider zone comprising the
Pardubice region and part of the Hradec Kralove region must be
reported to the local authorities. If no new cases of infection are
found, the measures will be discontinued after 30 days (July 19,
2007).

Source of infection
- - - - - - - - - -
5. Wild birds are primary suspects as the source of infection
because the farm used straw stored in the open air for litter. This
will be verified by further analysis. According to veterinary
experts, turkeys are particularly susceptible to infection but for
safety, all poultry in the village (some 1,000 hens and geese) will
be destroyed. Previously, H5N1 virus was only found in CR in
several dead wild swans. The first was found on March 20, 2006 at
Hluboka nad Vltavou and the last case was reported on May 12, 2006
at Kostice near Breclav.

Military steps in to help
- - - - - - - - - - - - -
6. In addition to veterinarians, firemen and police, a special
military rescue battalion from Olomouc responded to Tisova to help
stop the infection from spreading. Army Chief of Staff Vlastimil
Picek said only the military has the necessary technical means to
disinfect people who move about the area, decontaminate automobiles
leaving it, and destroy the infected birds.

Tamiflu administered
- - - - - - - - - -
7. As a preventive measure, Chief hygienist Michael Vit decided to
administer Tamiflu to the people who worked in the farm, vets who
discovered the infection and the military and firemen brigades
working in the area.

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