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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06ROME464
2006-02-15 16:29:00
UNCLASSIFIED
Embassy Rome
Cable title:  

AVIAN INFLUENZA: FAO PRESS CONFERENCE PROVIDES

Tags:   KFLU  EAGR  EAID  CASC  SENV  SOCI  TBIO  NI  IT  GR  BU  UP  AM  AJ  GG  FAO  WHO  IQ  AVIAN  INFLUENZA 
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This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
						UNCLAS ROME 000464 

SIPDIS

STATE FOR IO/EDA, EUR/SE, EUR/WE, NEA/ENA, EA/SEA, OES/IHA
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA GGOTTLIEB, PMORRIS; GH/KHILL, DCARROLL
AND BZINNER; AFR/MHARVEY, ALOZANO; EGAT A/AA JSMITH;
ANE/ACLEMENTS
USDA FOR OSEC STUMP/PENN/LAMBERT/CAINE, FAS
PETTRIE/HUGHES/CLERKIN, APHIS CLIFFORD/HOFFMAN
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH/USAID
HHS FOR OGHA (STEIGER)
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER
PARIS FOR GCARNER
USEUCOM FOR ECJ4
VIENNA PASS APHIS
CAIRO PASS APHIS
MILAN PLEASE PASS TO TURIN OFFICE

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU EAGR EAID CASC SENV SOCI TBIO NI IT GR BU UP AM AJ GG FAO WHO IQ AVIAN INFLUENZA
SUBJECT: AVIAN INFLUENZA: FAO PRESS CONFERENCE PROVIDES
GLOBAL UPDATE (ON NIGERIA, AZERBAIJAN, IRAQ, AND
ITALY/GREECE)

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;
(G) 06 ROME 0000; (H) 06 UNROME 0315; (I) 06 UNROME 0430

UNCLAS ROME 000464

SIPDIS

STATE FOR IO/EDA, EUR/SE, EUR/WE, NEA/ENA, EA/SEA, OES/IHA
USAID FOR DCHA/OFDA GGOTTLIEB, PMORRIS; GH/KHILL, DCARROLL
AND BZINNER; AFR/MHARVEY, ALOZANO; EGAT A/AA JSMITH;
ANE/ACLEMENTS
USDA FOR OSEC STUMP/PENN/LAMBERT/CAINE, FAS
PETTRIE/HUGHES/CLERKIN, APHIS CLIFFORD/HOFFMAN
GENEVA FOR NKYLOH/USAID
HHS FOR OGHA (STEIGER)
BRUSSELS FOR PLERNER
PARIS FOR GCARNER
USEUCOM FOR ECJ4
VIENNA PASS APHIS
CAIRO PASS APHIS
MILAN PLEASE PASS TO TURIN OFFICE

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

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU EAGR EAID CASC SENV SOCI TBIO NI IT GR BU UP AM AJ GG FAO WHO IQ AVIAN INFLUENZA
SUBJECT: AVIAN INFLUENZA: FAO PRESS CONFERENCE PROVIDES
GLOBAL UPDATE (ON NIGERIA, AZERBAIJAN, IRAQ, AND
ITALY/GREECE)

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;
(G) 06 ROME 0000; (H) 06 UNROME 0315; (I) 06 UNROME 0430


1. On February 14, FAO held a press conference to provide
a global update on Avian Influenza. Areas highlighted were
Nigeria, Azerbaijan, Iraq, Europe in general (with a
primary focus on Italy), and future preparations for Latin
America/Caribbean. Samuel Jutzi, Director of FAO's Animal
Production and Health Division, and Juan Lubroth, FAO
Senior Veterinary Officer/Infectious Diseases, were joined
by Romano Marabelli, Chief Veterinary Officer (CVO) for the
Government of Italy. FAO officials commended Italy for
taking extremely effective and rapid control measures and
noted that there is no reason to panic in Europe at
present, as European poultry is safe for consumption and
the region is well prepared. Other remarks follow:


2. Nigeria: Jutzi opened by stating that FAO CVO Joseph
Domenech, who was in Chad, was expected to travel to
Nigeria on February 15 to assist the international

assessment team already in place (reftel 06 UN ROME 0430).
He also noted that the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza
(HPAI) is widely circulating in Nigerian commercial and
rural poultry farms. Lubroth stated that Nigeria, followed
by Iraq and Azerbajian, is one of the most problematic
areas presently. The Government of Nigeria, which had the
foresight in November 2005 to set up an Avian Influenza
presidential/ministerial level task force comprised of
eight teams of veterinarians, epidemiologists and other
specialists, is currently restricting the movement of
poultry out of Kaduna and Kano states. When asked by a
journalist why it took FAO so long to identify the H5N1
virus in Nigeria, Lubroth responded that, initially,
experts believed they were dealing with Newcastle Disease
(NCD) and HPAI was suspected only when commercial farmers
reported the deaths of 40,000 chickens in early February.
Jutzi also interjected that, even if FAO knows the virus is
circulating, the organization cannot publicly reveal the
information before the government formally acknowledges the
virus' presence by reporting it to the World Organisation
for Animal Health (OIE).


3. When questioned whether there are suspected cases in
other African countries, Lubroth responded that FAO tracks
rumors on large animal die offs, and there are quite a few
rumors FAO is tracking right now in Africa and around the
world. However, it would be irresponsible of FAO to give
out a list of countries before tests confirm suspicions and
rule out whether animals died as a result of or were culled
for a number of other diseases.


4. Azerbaijan: Lubroth stated that the FAO/OIE reference
laboratory in Weybridge, United Kingdom, confirmed H5N1 in
samples sent from the Baku area where nearly 200,000
migrating birds spend their winter. It is believed that
the wild birds congregating around the Caspian Sea are
responsible for spreading the virus to the Caucasus and
Balkans.


5. Iraq: Lubroth stated that five districts in the north
[Suleimaini (sp) province] are affected, with 130,000-
180,000 birds being culled thus far in an effort to contain
the spread. Authorities have set up monitoring teams,
including a border patrol along the northern border with
Turkey. All slaughterhouses have been closed except one.
Lubroth stated that early diagnosis of HPAI was a result of
activities set up to detect NCD, which is now rampant in
Iraq (Note: FAO has requested U.S. assistance to combat NCD
there. End Note) The Iraqi Ambassador to FAO, who was in
the audience, inquired whether anyone from FAO visited
Iraq, noting that his ministry practically scolded him for
not knowing this answer and not being more proactive with
FAO. Lubroth reported that the FAO veterinary [Dr. Taliabi
(sp)] based in Cairo was on mission there with the WHO team
and that he is working closely with Sam Yinx (sp) of the
U.S. Naval Medical Research Unit also based in Cairo
(reftel 06 UN ROME 0430).


6. Latin America/Caribbean (LAC): Jutzi announced that,
last week, FAO Director General Diouf released an
additional $2 million from FAO Technical Cooperation
Program (TCP) funds to set up regional TCPs in Latin
America. The TCP proposals, which are currently being
developed by FAO, plan to include all countries and aim to
restructure and improve veterinary networks and
surveillance systems. When a Finnish Radio reporter asked
whether FAO believed HPAI is a global problem currently,
Jutzi replied that, although the virus is not yet present
in LAC, FAO has been saying for over one year that this
will be a global problem, and, therefore, must invest to
improve networks there as well.


7. Europe in general: Jutzi stated that there is no reason
to panic in Europe at present, as the problem is in birds,
not humans, both in Greece and Italy. Europe has extensive
surveillance and veterinary networks, and European poultry
is safe to eat. Last summer, FAO warned of the real risk
for Africa, but the real risk for Europe will be when wild
birds start to migrate north later this spring/early
summer. If the virus is as entrenched as it is in Africa,
there will be a real risk to European poultry from the wild
birds returning from Africa. As a matter of protection,
FAO supported the move by some European countries to
transfer poultry indoors and cover outside coops with anti-
passerine nets. Historically, Europe's vast experience in
dealing with transboundary animal diseases and its highly
developed culture of early detection and response makes it
extremely well prepared.


8. Lubroth stated that the risk to Europe is unknown and
remains theoretical. FAO does not have a grasp yet on the
reservoirs of the virus that, upon return to Europe, will
infect European birds. As part of the regional TCPs set up
in Africa, FAO is currently conducting studies on wild
birds (congregating in Chad, for example) and hopes to know
more in coming weeks. In response to an ANSA reporter's
question on whether there is an increased risk of
transmission to humans from urban species, such as pigeons,
starlings, or swallows, which may interface with wild
birds, Lubroth stated that the risk is pretty low, as the
known reservoirs that shed in high quantities are related
to the duck family and not to passerine family.


9. Italy: Italian CVO, Dr. Romano Marabelli, who was
president of OIE International Committee, stated that
Italian authorities have been actively monitoring as of
last fall and, with the help of the renowned national
laboratory in Padua, which happens to be an FAO/OIE
reference laboratory, were able to positively identify H5N1
immediately in the dead swans found in Catania, Messina,
Sicily, Calabria, Puglia and Lecce. Due to cold weather in
the Balkans, these swans traveled south to warmer regions
of Italy where they introduced the virus. Italian
authorities took appropriate (EU-standard) measures by
monitoring areas and blocking the movement of poultry.
Currently, authorities are keeping a close watch on all
affected areas.


10. In response to questions by local and foreign
journalists, Marabelli stated that there is no proof the
virus has been transmitted to domesticated animals, as all
tests have come back negative. The Government of Italy
(GOI) task force will increase its monitoring of swans. He
clarified that the HPAI virus in wild birds such as swans
cannot be transmitted directly to humans; rather, the virus
requires a vector as an intermediary. He also noted that
WHO has not yet declared a pandemic and, therefore, has not
identified a virus for which a vaccine must be developed,
but the GOI has made plans to obtain 36 million doses. At
the moment, however, the UN (WHO/FAO) focus should be on
reducing the level of risk in Africa. He also stated that
the GOI issued a directive to all mayoral offices last fall
to carry out a census on backyard poultry farms. As a
result, many small farmers have put up anti-passerine nets
over breeding grounds. Currently, Italian authorities are
focusing their attention on farms in areas where wild swans
were found and continuously check and recheck family farms,
but have not yet come across the virus at any of these
farms.


11. USMISSION UN ROME will continue to cover and widely
disseminate information on FAO activities to combat and
control Avian Influenza.

CLEVERLEY