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Cablegate: Avian Flu H5n1 Strain Confirmed in Hk

VZCZCXRO4664
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH RUEHVC
DE RUEHHK #2237 3471056
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121056Z DEC 08
FM AMCONSUL HONG KONG
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 6443
INFO RUEHOO/CHINA POSTS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHHI/AMEMBASSY HANOI PRIORITY 3898
RUEHJA/AMEMBASSY JAKARTA PRIORITY 1767
RUEHKL/AMEMBASSY KUALA LUMPUR PRIORITY 7564
RUEHNE/AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI PRIORITY 1378
RUEHPF/AMEMBASSY PHNOM PENH PRIORITY 0833
RUEHGP/AMEMBASSY SINGAPORE PRIORITY 3958
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA PRIORITY
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS HONG KONG 002237

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EAP/CM, CA/OCS/EAP, AIAG, OES/IHA, MED
HHS FOR OGHA - STEIGER, HICKEY
CDC ATLANTA FOR CCID AND COGH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: AMED EAGR KFLU PINR TBIO HK CH
SUBJECT: AVIAN FLU H5N1 STRAIN CONFIRMED IN HK

REF: HONG KONG 2222

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Hong Kong,s Health Secretary confirmed on
December 11 that the H5 Avian Influenza (AI) virus
responsible for the deaths of over 200 chickens on December 9
was the H5N1 strain. No human associated cases of Avian
Influenza have been reported. The source of the virus
outbreak remains undetermined, but is thought to have
originated outside the farm; there is no evidence supporting
press speculation it was introduced through fertilized eggs
smuggled into Hong Kong. Post AI Working Group (AIWG) met
December 12 and confirmed that medical stocks were
inventoried and appropriate Consular Warden messages were up
to date. END SUMMARY.

2. (SBU) Hong Kong Health Secretary Dr. York Chow has
confirmed that the December 9 H5 Avian Influenza outbreak in
a large commercial farm in Hong Kong is the H5N1 strain.
There have been no reported or suspected human-associated AI
cases in Hong Kong; as a precaution, six farm workers from
the original contamination site have been placed in isolation
at a local hospital for monitoring, but remain asymptomatic
(Reftel). According to press reporting, Chow said extensive
testing at markets and other farms across the territory have
turned up negative, suggesting the outbreak has been
contained. Although unable to confirm the virus source, Chow
stated the outbreak is not likely to have originated inside
the farm and there was no evidence to suggest the virus was
introduced through smuggled fertilized eggs, as some poultry
industry insiders are suggesting. Chow appealed to anyone in
the industry with knowledge of egg smuggling to come forward
so the allegations may be aggressively investigated.

3. (SBU) In light of the H5N1 confirmation, the Consulate
General convened a meeting of the Avian Influenza Working
Group (AIWG) on December 12 to discuss the week's
developments and review the Consulate,s AI response planning
and procedures. The Medical Unit reported stocks of
antiviral medications, masks, sanitizers, and other materials
were recently inventoried and the health unit is well-stocked
at recommended levels. The Consular section reported that it
released a Warden Message on December 10 notifying the AMCIT
community in Hong Kong of the virus discovery and providing
additional information and websites where citizens could go
for updates.
DONOVAN

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