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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
05TELAVIV6238
2005-10-31 09:37:00
UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Embassy Tel Aviv
Cable title:  

AVIAN INFLUENZA: GOI ASSISTING PA; GROUPS FEAR

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						UNCLAS TEL AVIV 006238 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR OES/PCI, OES/IHA, NEA/IPA AND NEA/RA

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO EAGR PREL ECON KWBG IS ENVIRONMENT SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY ISRAELI PALESTINIAN AFFAIRS
SUBJECT: AVIAN INFLUENZA: GOI ASSISTING PA; GROUPS FEAR
OVERREACTION TO FLU THREAT

REF: A. JERUSALEM 4870 (NOTAL)

B. TEL AVIV 6170



1. (SBU) Summary: Israeli officials are in daily contact with
their counterparts from the Palestinian Authority and have
been testing birds on behalf of the PA. GOI veterinary
officials have provided their Palestinian counterparts with
antigens to detect avian influenza. GOI and PA veterinary
officials already meet periodically, and Israel has asked
Jordan to include the PA in coordination meetings initiated
by Jordan. There have not yet been any H5N1 cases detected
in Israel. Birdwatchers, poultry farmers and the Cancer
Society have expressed concerns about possible overreaction
to the threat of bird flu. End summary.



2. (SBU) GOI Head Veterinarian Moshe Chaimovitz told ESTH
Officer October 27 that the Israeli Veterinary Service (VS)
is in daily contact with its Palestinian counterparts.
Chaimovitz said he had learned that the PA needed antigens to
detect avian influenza from press reports. He immediately
phoned his PA counterpart, sent a supply of antigens, and
provided information on European antigen suppliers used by
the GOI. The GOI VS has tested a number of birds from the PA
for avian influenza; all tested negative. Noting that GOI
and PA VS officials meet periodically, Chaimovitz said he had
requested that the PA VS be included in the series of
coordination meetings initiated recently by Jordan.



3. (U) The GOI VS has tested hundreds of birds in recent
weeks, but so far has not discovered the H5N1 virus in
Israel. Birdwatchers, poultry farmers, and the Cancer
Society have expressed concerns about possible overreaction
to the threat of bird flu. Dr. Yossi Leshem, an
ornithologist at Tel Aviv University and director of the
International Center for the Study of Migratory Birds at
Latrun, has been telling the public that they can enjoy bird
watching as usual this season, but should avoid contact with
sick or dead birds. Leshem told the Israeli daily "Haaretz"
October 21 that some 50,000 birds are banded in Israel each
year. He asked that government ministries provide resources
for testing and monitoring the banded birds to help create
continuous tracking of wild bird populations along the
Syrian-African Rift.



4. (U) Chicken farmers have decried the "hype" about avian
flu. Large growers interviewed by "Haaretz" noted that their
poultry runs were closed and there was limited risk of
contact with diseased wild birds. Consumption of chicken
meat reportedly held steady over the recent Jewish holidays.
Meanwhile, a Cancer Society representative questioned
government plans to buy additional supplies of Tamiflu,
noting that the number of Israelis dying each year of colon
and breast cancers exceeded the number of people who might
die in a serious flu outbreak.

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