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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08KOLKATA11 2008-01-14 12:36:00 UNCLASSIFIED Consulate Kolkata
Cable title:  

GOWB REACTS QUICKLY TO POULTRY DEATHS

Tags:   KFLU TBIO SENV PGOV IN 
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VZCZCXRO1312
OO RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHCI #0011 0141236
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O P 141236Z JAN 08
FM AMCONSUL KOLKATA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 1824
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA PRIORITY 0068
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 2232
					  					
UNCLAS KOLKATA 000011

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

DEPT PLS PASS TO CDC-ATLANTA AND HHS -STEIGER, BELL, HICKEY

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU TBIO SENV PGOV IN
SUBJECT: GOWB REACTS QUICKLY TO POULTRY DEATHS


1 (U) SUMMARY: Over the past few days, between 10,000 and
25,000 chickens have died in West Bengal's Birbhum district.
GOWB authorities suspect an avian influenza outbreak and have
sent rapid response teams, medicines and quarantine systems to
the town of Margram which reported these deaths. West Bengal
Animal Resource Department officials expect H5N1 to show up in
samples sent for testing to Bhopal's High Security Animal
Disease Laboratory (HSADL). While the GOWB and federal agencies
appear to have a handle on the potential AI situation in
Margram, an outbreak will be a major setback for West Bengal's
growing poultry industry. END SUMMARY.



2. (U) In the past seven days, a large number of poultry have
died in and around Margram village, located approximately 200
miles North of Kolkata. This has raised concerns about avian
influenza. Officials from West Bengal's health, animal
resources, police and forest departments, along with Indian
federal government officials from Delhi, reached Margram on
January 12. Samples have been collected and sent to HSADL.
Although final results will be known on Tuesday, West Bengal's
Director for Animal Resource Department told post that his team
has already put in place measures "assuming the report will
indicate the presence of the H5N1 virus."



3. (U) There is wide variation in the reported number of bird
deaths. Media reports vary between 10,000 and 25,000 poultry
deaths. The owner of Arambagh Hatcheries - East India's largest
commercial poultry operation - told post that the number was
probably at most 5,000, but could creep higher. He also pointed
out that the deaths were reported from backyard poultry
operations. So far, commercial poultry farms in the state have
reported no poultry deaths.



4. (U) Birbhum district officials - in-charge of Margram -- have
shut down meat shops and banned import and export of birds in a
6 mile radius from Margram. The police department is monitoring
local roads and highways to prevent the movement of poultry in
and out of the area. Rapid Response Teams with protective gear
also have been deployed. News reports quoted GOWB health
officials that the GWOB was stockpiling of Tamiflu in local
health centers. The GOWB health department has also earmarked a
separate enclosure at Margram's local hospital to screen and
monitor poultry handlers. Backyard poultry owners have been
advised to use protective gear while handling dead birds, which
are being buried. The GOWB is waiting for official confirmation
from HSADL of the presence of H5N1 before starting culling
operations.



5. (U) Poultry is one of West Bengal's fastest-growing sectors,
producing 8 percent of India's 27 billion eggs in addition to
120 million broilers in 2006. The industry has been growing at
a rate of 20 percent annually. Organized commercial poultry
includes 22 state-run farms and a few private ones. Backyard
poultry farms run by self-help groups - with start-up support
from the state government -- form the bulk of this industry.



6. (U) COMMENT: Contacts highlighted the prompt initial
response from GOWB and federal agencies to reports of poultry
deaths. A senior ARD official also acknowledged USG help in
terms of AI response training, management and scientific
cooperation. A sharp decline in chicken and poultry consumption
in Eastern India - including the Northeast can be expected, with
serious resulting economic implications, -- if the HSADL final
report on January 15 confirms the presence of H5N1.

JARDINE