US embassy cable - 04RANGOON167

STILL NO AVIAN FLU IN BURMA; GOVERNMENT PREPARES FOR WORST

Identifier: 04RANGOON167
Wikileaks: View 04RANGOON167 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Rangoon
Created: 2004-02-06 02:29:00
Classification: UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY
Tags: TBIO ECON EAID AMED KHIV BM Avian Influenza
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS RANGOON 000167 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SENSITIVE 
 
STATE FOR EAP/BCLTV, OES/IHA, EB 
HHS FOR OFFICE OF GLOBAL AFFAIRS 
BANGKOK FOR AID, FAS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: TBIO, ECON, EAID, AMED, KHIV, BM, Avian Influenza 
SUBJECT: STILL NO AVIAN FLU IN BURMA; GOVERNMENT PREPARES 
FOR WORST 
 
REF: A. STATE 23762 
 
     B. RANGOON 137 
 
1. (SBU) Summary: Burma does not have any reported cases of 
avian flu.  Though the government is taking precautionary 
measures (ref B), if an outbreak were to occur the regime 
would be ill-prepared to face it.  However, even if the worst 
happens, due to current USG Burma policy it's unlikely that 
we'd have any room to provide direct assistance.  End summary. 
 
Burma Still Has No Flu 
 
2. (U) Ref A request for information indicated that Burma was 
currently affected by one of the strains of avian influenza 
currently sweeping Asia.  As reported in ref B, and verified 
with local WHO officials on February 4th, to the best of 
anyone's knowledge this is not/not the case.  The Burmese 
government has not yet reported any cases of avian flu among 
its large flock of domestic and imported chickens. 
 
3. (U) As reported in ref B, the GOB has taken a number of 
actions including launching a public education campaign and 
freezing imports of chickens from Thailand unless they are 
cleared by the Burmese Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries 
(MOLF).  MOLF together with the Ministry of Health is also 
prepared to use MOLF's antiquated veterinary testing 
facilities to test any sick birds from private farms and from 
government chicken farms run by the Myanmar Farm Enterprise. 
However, the GOB has not yet begun any culling of domestic or 
previously imported chickens.  We have not heard that MOLF is 
vaccinating chickens. 
 
Comment: Poorly Prepared, But We Can't Help 
 
4. (SBU) As we mentioned in reftel, the government's secrecy 
reflex and the difficulty of getting accurate news from the 
provinces will make it tough for us and the WHO to ever be 
"absolutely certain" that avian flu is not in Burma. It is a 
concern, however, as Burma's inadequate medical 
infrastructure (for both man and beast) would be very hard 
pressed to effectively contain any new epidemic.  Likewise, 
it is very unlikely that the GOB will provide adequate 
equipment or training for personnel assigned to taking care 
of the problem.  However, we note that whatever the situation 
with Burma's chickens, and with the GOB's capacity to handle 
an outbreak, current U.S. policy would make any direct USG 
assistance to address the problem extremely unlikely.  End 
comment. 
Martinez 

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