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Cablegate: H1n1 in Poland: Quiet for Now

VZCZCXRO1592
PP RUEHIK
DE RUEHWR #1135 3101629
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 061629Z NOV 09
FM AMEMBASSY WARSAW
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 9149
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZN/ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUCPDOC/DEPT OF COMMERCE WASHINGTON DC PRIORITY
RUEAUSA/HHS WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA PRIORITY

UNCLAS WARSAW 001135

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR EUR/CE MARY GLANTZ, STATE FOR OES/IHB

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: CASC ECON GM PREL SOCI TBIO
SUBJECT: H1N1 IN POLAND: QUIET FOR NOW

1. (SBU) Summary: Poland's Chief Sanitary Inspectorate
reports no deaths related to H1N1 and no major outbreaks.
While Polish officials are watching the situation closely,
they do not plan to implement extraordinary measures absent a
dramatic change in the disease's behavior, despite
substantial media attention to the situation in Ukraine.
Health officials plan to purchase 4 million doses of the H1N1
vaccine, but not until further testing is complete. For now,
they are focused on educating the public on preventing the
spread of all types of influenza. Poland will continue
following EU and WHO recommendations while officials maintain
direct contact with the US Center for Disease Control.
Confirmed cases are very low (only 190) but that is likely
the result of limited testing to discern between regular
seasonal flu and H1N1. End Summary.

Only 190 Confirmed Cases?
-----------------------------------------

2. (SBU) On Thursday, November 05, 2009, EconOff met with
Chief Sanitary Inspectorate to discuss Poland's current
preparedness for the H1N1 influenza. To date, there are only
190 confirmed cases of H1N1, very low compared to neighboring
Germany's 30,000 and Ukraine's 250,000. However, there are
approximately 10,000 reported cases of influenza-like
illnesses, which would include unconfirmed cases of the H1N1
strain. Furthermore, Poles do not regularly seek medical
attention for what they consider to be seasonal symptoms. No
deaths have resulted from H1N1 and only one critical case
from last Spring, which involved an AmCit child who had
traveled from the United States, have been recorded. Poland
is following EU and WHO recommendations.

3. (SBU) Regarding the drastically lower numbers of
confirmed cases, the Chief Inspectorate reported that not all
flu-like cases are tested for H1N1, which is why the numbers
are so much lower than in neighboring countries. Only 5% of
General Practitioners are required, under the Sentinel
System, to test all patients with flu-like systems. The
Sentinel System is a select group of doctors in each region
that participate in reporting on all respiratory illnesses to
the Ministry of Health. Some independent reporting of H1N1
has occurred when patients specifically mentioned travel to
western Ukraine, but these numbers are minimal.

For Now: Information but no Vaccination
--------------------------------------------- -------------

4. (SBU) There are no plans for closing borders or schools,
or limiting travel. Poland has 4 million H1N1 vaccines on
order for the first priority group, in accordance with WHO
guidelines, but is awaiting research confirming that the
vaccine safe before final purchase (NOTE: Officials would not
specify the research they had in mind). The Ministry of
Health is conducting an intense informational campaign, which
relays information for all types of influenza. While taking
the necessary action to inform and treat H1N1 influenza, the
Chief Inspectorate views seasonal influenza as a much greater
threat to the Polish community.

5. (SBU) The Ministry of Health is also standing firm on not
committing to purchase the H1N1 vaccines until further
testing shows that it is safe. The Chief Inspectorate stated
they were pressured by an unnamed pharmaceutical company to
purchase the vaccine, but the test results were not
satisfactory and the contract would have freed the company
from any liability. In the meantime, the seasonal influenza
vaccine is available and being distributed. However, it is
estimated that only 5% of the Polish population receives the
vaccine and only 6% of medical doctors choose to take the
vaccine themselves or even recommend it for their patients.
Hence, the Ministry of Health must go against a population's
superstition against vaccinations and is vigorously
campaigning to educate about all kinds of influenza and
encourage healthy living, which, they argue, includes
vaccination.
FEINSTEIN

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