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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
06ROME163 2006-01-18 11:05:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Rome
Cable title:  

AVIAN INFLUENZA: FAO UPDATE ON TURKEY AND THE

Tags:   EAGR EAID CASC SENV SOCI TBIO TU UP AM AJ GG FAO WHO AVIAN INFLUENZA 
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					  UNCLAS ROME 000163 

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

STATE FOR IO/EDA, EUR/SE, NEA/ENA, EA/SEA, OES/IHA
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA GGOTTLIEB, PMORRIS; GH/KHILL AND
DCARROLL; EE/MTROSTLE; EGAT A/AA JSMITH; ANE/ACLEMENTS;
AFR/MHARVEY; EE/MTROSTLE
USDA FOR OSEC STUMP/PENN/LAMBERT, FAS
PETTRIE/HUGHES/CLERKIN, APHIS CLIFFORD/DUVERNOY
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH/USAID
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER
PARIS FOR GCARNER
USEUCOM FOR ECJ4
VIENNA PASS APHIS
CAIRO PASS APHIS

FROM THE U.S. MISSION TO THE UN AGENCIES IN ROME

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: EAGR EAID CASC SENV SOCI TBIO TU UP AM AJ GG FAO WHO AVIAN INFLUENZA
SUBJECT: AVIAN INFLUENZA: FAO UPDATE ON TURKEY AND THE
CAUCASUS

REF: (A) 05 ROME 3949; (B) 05 ROME 3320; (C) 05 ROME 2979;

(D) 05 ROME 1142; (E) 05 ROME 3976; (F) 06 ROME 0087;
(E) 06 ROME 0000

SENSITIVE BUT UNCLASSIFIED. PLEASE HANDLE ACCORDINGLY.



1. (SBU) SUMMARY. ON JANUARY 13, USMISSION UN ROME STAFF
MET WITH JOSEPH DOMENECH, FAO CHIEF VETERINARY OFFICER, AND
MEMBERS OF HIS STAFF TO DISCUSS THE CURRENT SITUATION IN
TURKEY AND NEEDS THERE. ALSO DISCUSSED WAS THE OUTLOOK FOR
ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN AND GEORGIA. FOR TURKEY, DOMENECH
STATED THAT THE DISEASE IS STILL SPREADING AMONG BIRDS;
ALTHOUGH A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT STRAIN, IT APPEARS IT ARRIVED
AT THE SAME TIME AS WHEN THE VIRUS HIT CRIMEA, UKRAINE;
OPERATIONS ARE NOW RECEIVING HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL SUPPORT,
WHICH WILL HELP STOP THE SPREAD TO A CERTAIN EXTENT THROUGH
THE IMPROVEMENT OF SURVEILLANCE AND REPORTING ACTIVITIES;
AND THE COUNTRY FACES A GAP IN TECHNICAL EXPERTISE AND
VEHICLES. TWO FAO EXPERTS WILL DEPART ON AN ASSESSMENT
MISSION TO ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN AND GEORGIA SHORTLY, BUT FAO
NOTES THAT ARMENIA'S LABORATORY FACILITIES ARE DEFICIENT,
ALTHOUGH THE COUNTRY IS EMBARKING ON A VACCINATION PROGRAM
UTILIZING RUSSIAN-MANUFACTURED VACCINES; AZERBAIJAN IS
BETTER PLACED WITH SEROLOGICAL TESTING BUT LACKS A FACILITY
FOR FRONTLINE DIAGNOSTICS, WHILE GEORGIA HAS A
SOPHISTICATED FACILITY. END SUMMARY



--------------------------


TURKEY


--------------------------





2. (SBU) DOMENECH STATED THAT FAO'S OBJECTIVE IS TO
MAINTAIN ASSISTANCE TO THE GOVERNMENT OF TURKEY (GOT) AND
TO GATHER AND DISSEMINATE INFORMATION ON THE OUTBREAK NOW
THAT PROJECTS ARE UNDERWAY TO IMPROVE SURVEILLANCE. HE
STATED THAT THE DISEASE IS STILL SPREADING AND THE BELIEF
WAS THAT IT HAD BEEN SPREADING FOR SEVERAL WEEKS, MOST
LIKELY APPEARING IN TURKEY AT THE SAME TIME AS IN CRIMEA,
UKRAINE, ALTHOUGH THE TWO STRAINS DIFFER SLIGHTLY. THE
FACT THAT THE GOT WAS UNDERREPORTING AND SLOW TO ACT
ALLOWED THE VIRUS TO SPREAD WIDELY, ACCORDING TO DOMENECH.
NOW THAT THERE IS HIGH-LEVEL POLITICAL SUPPORT WITHIN THE
GOT, HE IS OPTIMISTIC ON ERADICATING OR CONTROLLING
MULTIPLE OUTBREAKS. VACCINATION OF DOMESTICATED POULTRY IS
BEING CONSIDERED AS A FIRST STEP. HOWEVER, ALL THE
OUTBREAKS IN UKRAINE, RUSSIAN ROMANIA AND NOW TURKEY LEAD
FAO TO BELIEVE THAT THE INFESTATION COULD BE CONSIDERED A
PLAGUE, EVEN IF THERE IS A GOOD ECONOMIC RESPONSE AND
RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO DETER IT.



3. (U) DOMENECH INDICATED MANY ASSESSMENTS WERE ONGOING
IN TURKEY PRIOR TO THE REPORTED OUTBREAK THERE, WHICH NOW
HAS CATAPULTED THIS RESEARCH FORWARD. FOR EXAMPLE, BOTH
THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION, WHICH WAS PREPARING TO LAUNCH A
PROJECT TO IMPROVE VETERINARY SERVICES/AVIAN INFLUENZA
ACTIVITIES IN TURKEY IN 2007, AND THE WORLD BANK, WHICH WAS
WORKING ON A LOAN AGREEMENT FOR SAME, ARE FAST-TRACKING
THESE PROJECTS. (NOTE: DOMENECH SAID THAT THE EC WAS
DECIDING ON A EURO 5 MILLION PROPOSAL THAT AFTERNOON
[JANUARY 13].) DOMENECH WARNED OF THE NEED TO ENSURE THERE
IS NO DUPLICATION OF EFFORT OR OVERLAP, AND TO ENSURE THAT
THE GOT IS PROPERLY RESOURCED TO CARRY OUT THE REQUIRED
KILLING OR CULLING OF AN ESTIMATED 5 MILLION BIRDS.



4. (SBU) DOMENECH STATED THAT TURKEY FACES A GAP IN
TECHNICAL EXPERTISE, WHICH IS WHY FAO HAS SENT EXPERTS
THERE FOR THREE WEEKS UNDER THE FAO/OIE UMBRELLA TO SUPPORT
ANKARA'S NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF TURKEY'S 81 REGIONS. THERE IS
A GREAT SHORTAGE OF PEOPLE TO CONDUCT SURVEILLANCE IN
REMOTE REGIONS. HE QUIETLY MENTIONED THE SENSITIVITIES
RELATED TO THE USE OF THE TURKISH ARMY TO CONDUCT
ACTIVITIES IN LARGELY KURDISH AREAS. WE CAN TAKE OUT).
WHEN ASKED HOW DONORS COULD HELP TURKEY, DOMENECH STATED
THAT MANY DONORS DO NOT TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION THE NEED
FOR VEHICLES TO SERVICE TURKEY'S VAST RURAL COMMUNITIES.
IN HIS VIEW, DONORS FOCUS TOO MUCH ON THE DIAGNOSTICS AND
PERSONAL PROTECTION EQUIPMENT (PPE). HE STATED THAT THE
GOT KNOWS WHAT IT IS DOING IN ITS EFFORTS TO COMBAT OTHER
ANIMAL DISEASES (E.G., RINDERPEST), ALTHOUGH AVIAN
INFLUENZA IS A VERY DIFFERENT DISEASE. MANY DONORS ALSO
HAVE QUESTIONED WHETHER THE GOT NEEDS EXTERNAL RESOURCES TO
SUPPORT THESE ACTIVITIES, NOTING THAT THE COUNTRY IS
WEALTHY ENOUGH TO HANDLE THE OUTBREAK. DOMENECH BELIEVES
THAT THERE IS A NEED TO COMPLEMENT NATIONAL LAB FACILITIES
AND COMMUNICATIONS.



--------------------------


ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN, AND GEORGIA


--------------------------





5. (U) BECAUSE OF ARMENIA'S COMMON BORDER WITH TURKEY,
DOMENECH STATED THAT FAO DECIDED JANUARY 12 TO SEND A TWO-
MEMBER ASSESSMENT TEAM NEXT WEEK TO REVIEW THE SITUATION IN
ARMENIA, FOCUSING MAINLY ON THE RISK AT THE BORDER WHERE
THE FIRST HUMAN CASES IN TURKEY WERE REPORTED. THE WORLD
BANK HAD ALSO ASKED FAO INFORMALLY TO IDENTIFY A LABORATORY
EXPERT WHO COULD BE SENT TO ARMENIA TO HELP WITH
DIAGNOSTICS. DOMENECH'S STAFF SPOKE AT THE DECEMBER
WORKSHOP FAO HOSTED IN YEREVAN TO REWRITE CONTINGENCY PLANS
TO INCLUDE AVIAN INFLUENZA SURVEILLANCE AND CONTROL
ACTIVITIES. NEXT WEEK'S MISSION WILL DETERMINE THE STATUS
OF AND PROGRESS MADE ON THE CONTINGENCY PLANS AND WHETHER
ARMENIA HAS INCORPORATED ANY AVIAN INFLUENZA PREPARATIONS.
FAO INDICATED THAT IT HAD BEEN IN COMMUNICATION IN OCTOBER
2005 WITH USAID/YEREVAN ON A $3 MILLION PROPOSAL TO
STRENGTHEN SURVEILLANCE AND CONTROL OF MAJOR TRANS-BOUNDARY
ANIMAL DISEASES THROUGH UPGRADING DIAGNOSTIC SERVICES, BUT
HAD NOT YET RECEIVED A RESPONSE (NOTE: USMISSION UN ROME
HAS RECEIVED AND FORWARDED AN ELECTRONIC COPY OF THE
PROPOSAL TO USAID/W FOR UPDATE. END NOTE.) THE MAJOR
ISSUE FOR ARMENIA IS WHETHER AND HOW TO COMPENSATE FARMERS
FOR CULLING. FAO STATED THAT ARMENIA'S FINANCIAL RESOURCES
ARE LACKING TO COMPENSATE APPROPRIATELY AND THUS THE
GOVERNMENT HAS DECIDED TO VACCINATE USING RUSSIAN-
MANUFACTURED VACCINES.



6. (SBU) DOMENECH AND HIS STAFF BELIEVE BOTH AZERBAIJAN
AND GEORGIA ARE BETTER PLACED THAN ARMENIA [NOTING THAT
FOR GEORGIA, THERE ARE OTHER CONSIDERATIONS IN PLAY HERE,
REFERRING TO THE VERY SENSITIVE STATE-DEPARTMENT SPONSORED
THREAT AGENT RESPONSE AND DETECTION (TARD) PROJECT, WHICH
THE GOVERNMENT IS RELUCTANT TO USE AS A REGIONAL FACILITY].
FOR EXAMPLE, AZERBAIJAN IS CAPABLE OF CONDUCTING
SEROLOGICAL TESTING OF THE VIRUS, HOWEVER, IT IS LACKING A
FACILITY FOR FRONTLINE DIAGNOSTICS AND DOES NOT HAVE THE
FIELD INFRASTRUCTURE TO INVESTIGATE OUTBREAK REPORTS WELL.
GEORGIA, ON THE OTHER HAND, HAS A SOPHISTICATED DIAGNOSTIC
FACILITY AS A RESULT OF TARD. DOMENECH STATED FAO WILL
NEED TO KEEP PRESSURE ON THE AZERBAIJANIS IN ORDER TO KEEP
THEM PREPARED. TWO MONTHS AGO, AN AZERBAIJAN CONTINGENCY
PLAN WAS ALSO PREPARED AND REVIEWED BY USAID/BAKU (NOTE:
USMISSION UN ROME REQUESTS A STATUS UPDATE TO INFORM FAO.
END NOTE.) IN AZERBAIJAN, THE WORLD BANK IS FINANCING A
PROJECT WITH A STRONG FIELD VETERINARY COMPONENT THAT COULD
BE USED TO EXPAND GOVERNMENT SURVEILLANCE ACTIVITIES. FAO
BELIEVES IT WILL HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO PROVIDE A QUALITY
CONTROL REVIEW OF THE AZERBAIJAN GOVERNMENT'S CONTINGENCY
PLAN AND HELP RATCHET UP SURVEILLANCE ACTIVITIES WITH WORLD
BANK SUPPORT. FAO ALSO NOTED THAT TARD HAS PLANS TO WORK
WITH AZERBAIJAN, BUT NOT BEFORE 2007. IN ANY CASE,
DOMENECH STRESSED THAT FAO AND OTHERS NEED TO ENSURE THAT
SUSPECTED OUTBREAKS ARE FOLLOWED UP ON PROMPTLY AND
REPORTED ACCORDINGLY.


7. (U) FAO ALSO HAS PLANS TO ESTABLISH BY MARCH 2006 A
REGIONAL FAO/OIE OFFICE IN TBILISI, GEORGIA, TO COVER
GEORGIA, AZERBAIJAN, AND ARMENIA, COMPLEMENTING THE FAO
PERSON ALREADY BASED IN TEHERAN. A VETERINARY OFFICER WILL
BE PLACED IN TBILISI AND WILL HAVE RESPONSIBILITY FOR ALL
ANIMAL DISEASES, NOT JUST AVIAN INFLUENZA BUT FOOT AND
MOUTH DISEASE (FMD) AS WELL. BECAUSE THE OFFICER WILL BE
UNDER THE FAO/OIE FLAG, THIS INDIVIDUAL WILL ALSO BE
RESPONSIBLE FOR MAKING CROSS-BORDER VISITS TO TURKEY. FAO
HAS ASKED FOR U.S. ASSISTANCE IN LOCATING AN ADDITIONAL
EXPERT WITH RUSSIAN LANGUAGE AND EPIDEMIOLOGICAL SKILLS TO
ASSIGN TO TBILISI FOR ONE YEAR.


8. (U) USMISSION UN ROME WILL CONTINUE TO COVER AND
WIDELY DISSEMINATE INFORMATION ON FAO ACTIVITIES TO COMBAT
AND CONTROL AVIAN INFLUENZA.

HALL