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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
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