US embassy cable - 06BAKU208

AVIAN CASES OF H5N1 CONFIRMED IN AZERBAIJAN

Identifier: 06BAKU208
Wikileaks: View 06BAKU208 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baku
Created: 2006-02-10 16:07:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: EAGR EAID CASC KFLU AJ
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
VZCZCXRO2985
OO RUEHDBU
DE RUEHKB #0208/01 0411607
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 101607Z FEB 06
FM AMEMBASSY BAKU
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 9586
INFO RUCNCIS/CIS COLLECTIVE IMMEDIATE
RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA IMMEDIATE 1467
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON IMMEDIATE 0265
RUEHRO/AMEMBASSY ROME IMMEDIATE 0182
RUEHIT/AMCONSUL ISTANBUL IMMEDIATE 0400
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA IMMEDIATE
RUEHGV/USMISSION GENEVA IMMEDIATE 0125
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 BAKU 000208 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/CACEN, EUR/PGI, OES 
DEPT PLEASE PASS USAID 
DEPT PLEASE PASS USDA 
ANKARA FOR AGRICULTURE COUNSELOR AND ATTACHE 
GENEVA FOR HEALTH ATTACHE 
ROME FOR FAO REP 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/10/2016 
TAGS: EAGR, EAID, CASC, KFLU, AJ 
SUBJECT: AVIAN CASES OF H5N1 CONFIRMED IN AZERBAIJAN 
 
REF: A. A) BAKU 187 AND PREVIOUS 
 
     B. B) BAKU 189 
     C. C) 05 BAKU 1892 
 
Classified By: DCM JASON P. HYLAND FOR REASONS 1.4 (B, D) 
 
TAGS: EAGR, EAID, CASC, KFLU, AJ 
 
AVIAN CASES OF H5N1 CONFIRMED IN AZERBAIJAN 
 
1. (C) SUMMARY: The GOAJ announced February 10 that samples 
taken from birds in Azerbaijan had tested positive for H5N1 
avian influenza.  The tests were conducted at an 
international reference laboratory at Weybridge, UK. 
Ministers of Health and Agriculture did the right thing by 
quickly announcing the news to the public.  Post is concerned 
that the GOAJ is poorly organized to deal with this news, 
thus hampering a rapid response.  With President Ilham Aliyev 
in Rambouillet, France, for crucial talks on 
Nagorno-Karabakh, this top-down government may also be 
waiting for his February 12 return to set a clear course. 
Post is reaching out to the UN and other donors to craft a 
coherent message to the GOAJ and marshal needed international 
assistance.  Post released a warden message on the H5N1 
announcement to the American community and a separate message 
to the Embassy community on February 10.  We have also 
reviewed our tripwires (ref C) and determined that our 
current response is appropriate.  END SUMMARY. 
 
2. (SBU) On February 10, the Ministries of Health and 
Agriculture issued a joint statement confirming that samples 
taken from large bird die-offs and sent to an international 
laboratory in the UK had tested positive for H5N1.  This 
announcement came after some confusion on the part of the 
Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) during the evening of February 
9.  Amidst rumors that the WHO and FAO had already received 
word from the lab of positive findings, the MoA maintained 
that it would not make a public announcement on avian 
influenza until it received official notification from the 
FAO or WHO.  The Ambassador spoke by telephone to Agriculture 
Minister Abasov February 9 and urged the GOAJ to make an 
announcement quickly after following up with the UK lab 
directly.  (NOTE: Econoff spoke directly with the Weybridge 
laboratory earlier on February 9 and learned that six of 
seven samples tested at that time were positive for H5.  Of 
those, at least two had been tested further and found 
positive for H5N1.  The laboratory also indicated that it had 
sent two emails to Azerbaijan State Vet Service Chief Dr. 
Ismayil Hasanov on February 8 with the positive findings.  It 
is not clear whether Hasanov received these emails or 
communicated the findings to the Minister of Agriculture. 
Email attachments sent to Econoff by the Weybridge lab have 
been forwarded to EUR/CACEN.  END NOTE.) 
 
3. (SBU) Following the GOAJ announcement February 10, a World 
Health Organization (WHO) assessment team briefed the 
international community on its two-week examination of 
Azerbaijan's human health and veterinary system.  The team's 
report was decidedly negative vis-a-vis the GOAJ's lab and 
operational capabilities and training.  However, the team 
provided a number of recommendations, most medium to long 
term, in various areas (septel).  During the brief, UNICEF 
country director Hanaa Singer, who has been coordinating the 
UN system response to AI in Azerbaijan, detailed a meeting 
with Deputy Prime Minister Abbas Abbasov earlier February 10. 
 She described the meeting as "brutal" and said that Abassov 
railed against the Health Ministry and international 
community, which he believed was conspiring against 
Azerbaijan.  In her view, he had all but refused to 
acknowledge the presence of avian influenza in the country 
and only reluctantly allowed an FAO expert to proceed with 
plans to gather new samples for testing. 
 
4. (C) Singer's report adds to Post's growing concern that, 
while the Ministers of Agriculture and Health are clearly 
ready to engage, elements within the GOAJ are mismanaging the 
response to this incipient crisis.  The State Veterinary 
Service Chief has long been an obstacle, particularly in 
getting samples properly tested at a reference laboratory. 
 
BAKU 00000208  002 OF 002 
 
 
However, DPM Abbasov's intransigence has created a 
significant barrier to the international community's ability 
to providing Azerbaijan with needed aid and technical 
assistance.  Post is planning to raise quietly with other 
senior GOAJ officials the need to designate another official, 
such as DPM Abid Sharifov, more able to manage the GOAJ AI 
response effectively.  Ambassador will also urge newly 
appointed Minister of Emergency Situations Kemalladin 
Heydarov to play a role in crafting the GOAJ response.  With 
President Ilham Aliyev in Rambouillet, France, for crucial 
Nagorno-Karabakh talks, this top-down government may also be 
waiting for his February 12 return to get its marching orders. 
 
5. (SBU) Post is renewing our outreach to the international 
community, particularly the UN, in order to urge they take a 
lead role.  Ambassador called UNDP Resident Coordinator Marco 
Borsotti February 10 to elicit his personal involvement with 
the GOAJ.  Post has also suggested that FAO, which covers 
Azerbaijan from Ankara, send additional experts to augment 
the one FAO expert already here and provide capability for 
field-level assistance to the GOAJ. 
 
6. (SBU) Following the GOAJ's announcement concerning 
positive AI results, Post sent out a cleared warden message 
and immediately distributed it to the American community, and 
sent a separate message to the Embassy community.  We already 
held an AI town hall meeting on February 2 (ref B), but plan 
to hold a second town hall meeting for the community next 
week to answer any additional questions.  In addition, Post 
has reviewed the tripwires set forth in reftel B and 
determined that we are meeting those requirements.  Post has 
also determined that the other tripwires in reftel B are 
still appropriate. 
HARNISH 

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