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Cablegate: Tripura Government On Alert After Chickens Die In

VZCZCXRO3198
PP RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHCI #0298 2981014
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P R 241014Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL KOLKATA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2170
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0114
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 2654

UNCLAS KOLKATA 000298

SIPDIS

USDA FOR DEPUTY UNDER SECRETARY/ETERPSTRA
USDA FOR OFSO/JDEYER
USDA FOR FAS/OA/MYOST/WKMILLER
USDA FOR FAS/OCRA/CALEXANDER/JCARVER
USDA FOR FAS/OSTA/CHAMILTON
USDA FOR APHIS/MFLEMINGS/TBURLESON
SEOUL FOR APHIS/GEORGE ANDY BALL
DEPARTMENT FOR SA/PB, EB/TPP, AIAG HREED-ROWE
NEW DELHI FOR FAS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU EAGR ECON TBIO SENV PGOV PREL IN BG
SUBJECT: TRIPURA GOVERNMENT ON ALERT AFTER CHICKENS DIE IN
BANGLADESH

REF: A. KOLKATA 111
B. KOLKATA 128
C. DHAKA 1061

1. SUMMARY: The Tripura and West Bengal state governments are on
heightened alert to respond to an H5N1 avian influenza outbreak,
given the recent outbreaks in Bangladesh. To date, authorities
have not detected any incidents of H5N1 infection in Tripura or
West Bengal in the past three months. If the Bangladesh outbreak
does spread to Tripura and West Bengal, it is uncertain if the
India-Bangladesh joint combat mechanism will be effective to
combat an outbreak. END SUMMARY.

2. On October 19, 2008, the Government of Bangladesh (GOB)
reported that H5N1 Avian Influenza (AI) virus had been detected
in Bangladesh district of Naogaon (Reftel C). This district is
located close to West Bengal's Malda, Murshidabad and South
Dinajpur districts. A week later, media reported unusual poultry
mortality in Bangladesh's Sylhet, Habigunj and Srimangal
districts, which are adjacent to West Tripura and Dhalai
districts in the Indian state of Tripura. Contacts in the
governments of West Bengal and Tripura told EconFSN that no H5N1
outbreaks have been reported in either state in the past three
months.

3. Contacts in Tripura told EconFSN that the Tripura state
government came to know about Bangladesh's latest round of
unusual poultry mortality from media reports and alerted the
Indian Border Security Force (BSF) to increase their vigilance
along the 500-mile international border which the state shares
with Bangladesh. According to these contacts, BSF is monitoring
the livestock traffic across the border. Tripura Principal
Secretary for the Animal Resources Department Dr. U.
Venkateswarlu confirmed the mortality incident in Bangladesh and
told EconFSN that he is preparing for a response in case there
is an H5N1 outbreak in Tripura although he received no official
communication from Government of India in this regard.

4. Contacts told EconFSN that the West Bengal Government also
learnt about the October 2008 outbreak in Bangladesh's Naogaon
area from media reports. Malda, Mushidabad and South Dinajpur
are Naogaon's adjacent districts in West Bengal although the
actual area of the Naogaon outbreak seems between 30-40 miles
from the nearest India-Bangladesh border. To date, the GOI has
not notified West Bengal's Animal Resource Development
Department and any AI outbreaks and, therefore, the GOWB has not
trigger any AI response.

5. In June 2008, government officials from both India and
Bangladesh met in Dhaka and set up a bilateral mechanism to
combat avian influenza. The attendees agreed to report avian
influenza outbreaks to the respective central government
ministries. As per the agreement, Bangladesh government will
inform the relevant Government of India office (Department of
Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Ministry of Agriculture) through
the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. GOI will then pass on
the information through relevant channels. If this information
sharing is taking place, it appears that it is not being passed
to the state government officials responsible for providing
immediate response to an outbreak.

6. COMMENT: While the state governments of Tripura and West
Bengal appear better prepared for an H5N1 AI outbreak than in
the past, the bilateral combat mechanism established by India
and Bangladesh does not appear to be working at the state level
in India. This could lead to a delayed response if a serious
H5N1 outbreak occurs. END COMMENT.

PAYNE

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