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Cablegate: Ukraine: "Unknown Flu" Outbreak in Ternopil Region

VZCZCXRO4227
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHKV #1890 3030429
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 300429Z OCT 09
FM AMEMBASSY KYIV
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 8704
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZG/NATO EU COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA PRIORITY
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY

UNCLAS KYIV 001890

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CDC SOCI PREL AMED CASC XH UP
SUBJECT: UKRAINE: "UNKNOWN FLU" OUTBREAK IN TERNOPIL REGION

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED, NOT FOR INTERNET DISTRIBUTION

1. (U) Summary: In the past two weeks, thousands of people in the
Ternopil region of western Ukraine have fallen ill with an "unknown"
type of flu, according to local media sources. Reports suggest at
least seven people have died as a result of complications caused by
this outbreak. While Ukrainian authorities have stopped short of
indentifying the disease as A-H1N1, symptoms described in news
reports suggest that the "swine flu" has arrived in force. Thus
far, Ukrainian authorities have officially acknowledged only two
cases of A-H1N1 in Ukraine and no deaths. However, local experts
suspect that the number is significantly higher and likely to rise
as the annual flu season comes into full swing. End Summary.

FLU OUTBREAK IN TERNOPIL
------------------------

2. (U) According to media reports, at least seven people in the
Ternopil region of western Ukraine have died of complications caused
by an unknown flu strain. Moreover, approximately 6,000 - 10,000
people visited local medical facilities to be treated for flu-like
symptoms. Most patients are reportedly young and otherwise in good
physical health. In response, Ternopil authorities have closed
schools and universities and suspended public activities for
children and teenagers. According to the Ministry of Health,
medical facilities in Ternopil have instructions to isolate any
patients presenting flu like symptoms as a precaution.

3. (SBU) The flu virus has so far not been identified as A-H1N1.
According to Bohdan Oniskiv, head of the Ternopil Regional
Administration's Health Department, the strain will be known by
November 3, when authorities are scheduled to receive test results
from a London-based WHO-certified laboratory. Unofficial testing
results performed by the Ukrainian National Influenza Center should
be available on October 30. The Ministry of Health has set up a
special commission to investigate the causes of the outbreak in
Ternopil and present its findings on November 1.

H1N1 IN UKRAINE
---------------

4. (SBU) Ukraine has so far acknowledged two cases of A-H1N1 in May
and in September. Both individuals had travelled to Ukraine from
other countries and fully recovered after hospitalization and
treatment. However, as Dr. Galina Romanyuk of Program for
Appropriate Technologies in Health (PATH), who is directly involved
in PATH's pandemic influenza project in Ukraine, told us the actual
number of those infected with H1N1 may be much higher due to
difficulties associated with properly diagnosing the flu virus.
Consensus opinion is that, with the advent of the annual flu season,
the number of H1N1 cases in Ukraine is likely to increase
dramatically.

ATTEMPTS AT PREPAREDNESS
------------------------

5. (SBU) Oleksandr Bilovol, First Deputy Minister of Health and
Ukraine's Chief Health Inspector said in a press conference on
October 23 that Ukraine has filed an application with the World
Health Organization (WHO) to buy H1N1 vaccines, should the situation
in Ukraine deteriorate. According to Oleksandr Hrynevych, director
of the Ukrainian Flu Center, H1N1 vaccines should be available by
the end of the year, he said at a press conference on October 16.
In the meantime, Ukrainian health authorities have distributed
Tamiflu to regional hospitals but, according to PATH's Romanyuk, the
quantities are likely to be insufficient and more will does will
need to be purchased, should the situation deteriorate.

COMMENT
-------

6. (SBU) Ukraine has thus far avoided a significant H1N1 outbreak,
partially due to the relative difficulty average Ukrainians face in
obtaining U.S. and Schengen (E.U.) visas. Emergency measures taken
by the GOU after the first two individual H1N1 cases proved
effective and prevented the spread of the virus. If the current
Ternopil scare proves to be an actual H1N1 outbreak, however, the
Ministry of Health will be forced to actively deal with an
in-country epidemic and will likely need additional guidance from
those already coping with outbreaks around the world.

PETTIT

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
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