US embassy cable - 06DUBAI522

PREPARATIONS IN IRAN FOR AVIAN INFLUENZA

Identifier: 06DUBAI522
Wikileaks: View 06DUBAI522 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Consulate Dubai
Created: 2006-02-05 12:57:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: IR TBIO TU PGOV WHO KSTH ECON KFLU
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO6360
RR RUEHBC RUEHKUK RUEHMOS
DE RUEHDE #0522 0361257
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
R 051257Z FEB 06
FM AMCONSUL DUBAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 8113
INFO RUEHAD/AMEMBASSY ABU DHABI 1246
RUEHDE/AMCONSUL DUBAI 1013
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA 0066
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD 0107
RUEHYE/AMEMBASSY YEREVAN 0001
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEHZM/GCC C COLLECTIVE
RUCNIRA/IRAN COLLECTIVE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA 0009
C O N F I D E N T I A L DUBAI 000522 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  2/5/2016 
TAGS: IR, TBIO, TU, PGOV, WHO, KSTH, ECON, KFLU 
SUBJECT: PREPARATIONS IN IRAN FOR AVIAN INFLUENZA 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Jason L. Davis, Consul General, Dubai, State 
Department. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
 
 
 
1.(C) SUMMARY: An official at the World Health Organization 
(WHO) says the WHO has very little information about Iran's 
avian influenza (AI) national pandemic preparedness but is 
confident in Iran's capability to diagnose AI cases.  Iran is 
importing Tamiflu from Europe.  The AI outbreak in Turkey along 
the border with Iran provides some insight into Iran's potential 
response to an AI outbreak inside its borders. 
 
Identifying and Combating AI 
---------------------------- 
 
2.(C) Dr. Wenqing Zhang, a scientist at the WHO's Epidemic and 
Pandemic Alert and Response Department in Geneva, informed 
ESTHoff via email that the WHO has very little information about 
national pandemic preparedness in Iran and the government has 
not submitted a plan to the WHO.  However, the WHO has close 
collaboration with Iran's National Influenza Center (NIC) which 
is listed as one of the WHO's global "Collaboration Centers." In 
this capacity the NIC participates in annual influenza vaccine 
composition selection; its staff also participated in WHO 
influenza laboratory training last May as well as in other 
international meetings.  Based on this training and personal 
interaction, Dr. Zhang expressed confidence in the ability of 
the NIC to properly diagnose AI cases should they occur. 
 
3.(U) According to articles in the Iranian press, government 
officials continue to announce that no cases of AI have been 
found in Iran.  These denials may have been prompted by two 
recent events: the early January outbreak of AI in Turkey and 
the deaths of several thousand birds in Iran's West Azerbaijan 
province in October and November of last year.  Government 
officials attributed these deaths to botulism, not AI, citing 
tests conducted by Iran's Veterinary Organization.  Seyed Mehdi 
Tabatabaie, deputy head of the Diagnosis and Treatment 
Department of Iran's Veterinary Organization told IRIB News that 
38 quarantine outposts at border areas and 120 more throughout 
the country are prepared to take "preventative measures" if AI 
is discovered in Iran. 
 
4.(C) Soheila Haghgoo, head of Iran's Pharmaceutical Chemistry 
Labs at the Ministry of Health's Department of Food and 
Pharmaceuticals, told ESTHoff January 25 that Iran is importing 
Tamiflu from Europe (presumably from the Swiss company Roche). 
Haghgoo's laboratory ensures that pharmaceuticals both imported 
and produced in Iran are safe for consumption.  She did not know 
how much Tamiflu was being imported or how it would be deployed 
in the event of a pandemic.  Haghgoo believes that the 
government of Iran is prepared for and is educating its citizens 
about AI.  However, she was only able to cite newspaper reports 
for this information, and living in Tehran, she said she was 
unaware of any effort to raise awareness among people in more 
rural areas. 
 
Extrapolating from Iran's Recent AI Reaction 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
5.(C) The government of Iran's response to the early January 
discovery of AI in Turkey - less than 10 miles from the Iranian 
border - may offer some clues as to its national pandemic 
preparedness plans.  Shortly after AI was confirmed to be 
present in Turkey, Iran restricted border access, began 
disinfecting vehicles crossing the border, and started to cull 
tens of thousands of birds in 234 villages throughout West 
Azerbaijan province, according to Tabatabaei.  By January 26, 
about 50,000 birds had been culled.  Tabatabaei told IRIB News 
that owners were being reimbursed approximately 2 dollars and 20 
cents per chicken, out of a fund of roughly 2.2 million dollars 
set aside for this purpose.  This compensation may help prevent 
poor Iranians from hiding or eating sick birds in the event of 
an AI emergency.  Furthermore, Haghgoo told ESTHoff the border 
restrictions put in place after the discovery of AI in Turkey 
included denying entry to people who only wanted to cross into 
Iran for the day.  This was probably done to discourage people 
who cross the border only to trade at vegetable and animal 
markets. 
 
DAVIS 

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