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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
07RANGOON287 2007-03-19 09:21:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Rangoon
Cable title:  

BURMA'S AI OUTBREAK IN POULTRY SPREADS FURTHER

Tags:   EAGR EAID AMED PGOV PREL CASC TBIO KFLU BM 
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1. (U) Summary: Burma's AI outbreak in poultry, which began
on March 10-11, continues to spread. On March 18, the GOB
responded to new outbreaks of AI in poultry at eight farms in
another Rangoon township located near a major poultry
producing area. Officials continue to respond by culling all
poultry on affected farms and disinfecting the premises. The
GOB has reported no suspected human cases. Officials
increased efforts to address vulnerabilities at markets where
live poultry is sold. End summary.



2. (SBU) GOB Rapid Response Teams responded to reports of
1,605 poultry deaths over two days at eight poultry farms in
a "livestock zone" in Nyaung Hnit Pin Township, north of the
most recent outbreak sites in Rangoon. Lab technicians
detected the AI virus, and PCR confirmation is expected by
March 20. On March 18 - 19, the Livestock Breeding and
Veterinary Department (LBVD) Director General supervised the
culling of 22,337 chickens by the LBVD culling team, the
destruction of eggs and feed stores by the Rangoon Division
AI Prevention and Control Committee, and disinfectant
spraying by LBVD teams at the eight farms.



3. (SBU) Officials have begun to monitor the health of
poultry and humans within the controlled zone surrounding the
affected farms. The Livestock Zone maintains some
biosecurity measures, and authorities suspect that the virus
may have entered the zone through egg trays or feedbags.
Access to wild birds is limited, and no wild bird deaths were
reported in the area. The area of the new outbreaks contains
many government- and military-owned farms, and borders on
Hmaw Bi, one of the country's major poultry producing areas.



4. (C) Jum Coninx, WHO AI Coordinator, told us on March 17
that a confidential source informed her of "thousands" of
unreported poultry deaths on military-owned farms in
Mingladon and North Okkalapa Townships in Rangoon. The
Burmese military owns numerous agricultural and commercial
enterprises around the country. Her source said that LBVD
officials culled the remaining poultry and disinfected the
farms, using the same procedures on government premises as on
commercial and residential farms. In their internal reports
prepared for the Minister of Livestock, which they share with
the Embassy, LBVD confirmed that one of last week's outbreaks
occurred at a police station in North Okkalapa Township and
that they had also sprayed disinfectant at army grounds in
the same township. The internal report did not mention any
other poultry deaths at military farms.



5. (SBU) On March 14, FAS specialist observed that most
commercial poultry farms in Hlaing Thaya, site of two recent
outbreaks, had closed down. She reported that many Rangoon
farmers quickly sold their chickens in local markets before
they could become infected, taking a 25%-50% loss from usual
profits. Responding to earlier concerns voiced by FAO, WHO
and USAID, LBVD conducted educational talks on biosecurity at
markets in Mingaldon and Hlaing Thaya Townships. Embstaff
report that new procedures are in place at some wet markets,
including the requirement that poultry sellers wear masks,
and that the government will allow only sellers who are
certified "H5N1 - Clean" to sell poultry at markets.



6. (C) While some blamed political pressure from high
officials or uncertain lab procedures for the delay in

RANGOON 00000287 002.2 OF 002


acknowledging the AI outbreak in Rangoon in the media this
month, sources have told us that the pressure to suppress the
news came from CP, the major commercial poultry producer.
CP, a Thai-owned company, was hit hard by the 2006 outbreak,
when the GOB culled all poultry within a one kilometer radius
of affected farms. CP reportedly cannot withstand another
big downturn this year, and urged the government to release
information in the press slowly to reduce the impact on their
sales. LBVD reps told us that a similar broader culling
procedure might be necessary to contain the current outbreak
before it spreads to large private and government poultry
producers in Hmaw Bi and further north in Bago Division, two
areas that, together with Mandalay, host most of Burma's
commercial poultry enterprises.
VILLAROSA