wikileaks ico  Home papers ico  Cables mirror and Afghan War Diary privacy policy  Privacy
IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
08KOLKATA145 2008-05-12 18:33:00 UNCLASSIFIED Consulate Kolkata
Cable title:  

AVIAN INFLUENZA FOUND IN WEST BENGAL'S DARJEELING DISTRICT

Tags:   KFLU TBIO EAGR SENV AMED CASC IN NP 
pdf how-to read a cable
VZCZCXRO2194
PP RUEHAST RUEHBI RUEHLH RUEHPW
DE RUEHCI #0145 1331833
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 121833Z MAY 08
FM AMCONSUL KOLKATA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 1991
INFO RUCNCLS/ALL SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA COLLECTIVE
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE USD FAS WASHINGTON DC
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA
RHMFIUU/CDR USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHCI/AMCONSUL KOLKATA 2432
					  UNCLAS KOLKATA 000145 

SIPDIS

DEPT PLS PASS TO HHS, APHIS, AND CDC

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KFLU TBIO EAGR SENV AMED CASC IN NP
SUBJECT: AVIAN INFLUENZA FOUND IN WEST BENGAL'S DARJEELING DISTRICT

REF: KOLKATA 136



1. (U) SUMMARY: On May 9, the avian influenza (AI) virus spread
to West Bengal's Darjeeling district, bringing the total number
of districts affected in West Bengal to 18 out of 19. The
spread of H5N1 outside of the normal migratory season suggests
that the virus may be embedded in West Bengal's domestic poultry
population. The state Animal Resources Development Department
Minister indicated that the virus is going to persist in the
state and blamed backyard poultry operations for the ineffective
culling and the virus' recurrence. The newly affected villages
are very close to the India-Nepal international border, and
there is understandable concern about the virus spreading into
Nepal. END SUMMARY.



2. (U) On May 9, the presence of H5N1 virus was confirmed at
Painikumari village in West Bengal's Darjeeling district, about
430 miles north of Kolkata. Alarmed by poultry mortality over
the past seven days, on May 8, the West Bengal Animal Resources
Development (ARD) Department sent samples for testing at HSADL,
Bhopal, which confirmed the presence of the virus. Darjeeling's
district administrators told media that on May 10, 20 Rapid
Response Teams (RRT) started culling and surveillance operations
in 28 villages that fall within a three-mile radius of
Painikumari village. Culling and sanitization are expected to
be complete by May 13. There are no large farms in the area and
raising poultry is entirely through small, backyard operations.

3 (U) Painikumari village is located near the India-Nepal
international border. The narrow "chicken's neck" strip of West
Bengal between Nepal and Bangladesh is only 22km wide. The ARD
department has deployed a team from Kolkata that will monitor
cross-border poultry traffic to ensure that no poultry enters
Nepal from the infected zone, though it is unlikely to be
effective, as the borders are essentially open. Post has
learned that on May 12, a Nepalese delegation met senior ARD
officials in Kolkata. ARD officials also told Post that a team
of GOI observers has reached Painikumari to monitor the
situation. Contacts in the city of Siliguri, which is close to
Darjeeling, told Post that awareness about H5N1 infection is
generally low amongst the local people.

4 (U) With Darjeeling joining the state's AI-infected areas, the
number of districts affected by the virus this year has risen to
18 (out of 19 administrative districts). Since January 2008 all
West Bengal districts with the exception of Kolkata have now
reported H5N1 outbreaks, although the pattern of infection in
West Bengal did not follow a specific route between contiguous
districts. Some districts like Murshidabad and Nadia also
reported outbreaks more than once.



5. (U) COMMENT: New outbreaks occurring the avian migratory
season suggest that the H5N1 virus may have become embedded in
the poultry population of West Bengal. Local media quoted West
Bengal ARD Minister Anisur Rahaman as saying that sporadic H5N1
outbreaks are here to stay. Rahaman said that the prevalence of
backyard poultry has made culling and decontamination
ineffective, leaving behind a residual viral load in sanitized
areas. The argument for a regional or international mechanism
to fight the H5N1 outbreak will gain momentum if the virus
spreads to Nepal, which is likely given the porosity of the
Indo-Nepal border, particularly in the Darjeeling district.

JARDINE