07TBILISI1542, GEORGIA: JUNE 27 UPDATE ON AFRICAN SWINE FEVER

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
07TBILISI1542 2007-06-27 13:36 2011-08-30 01:44 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Tbilisi

VZCZCXRO7269
OO RUEHLMC
DE RUEHSI #1542/01 1781336
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
O 271336Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY TBILISI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 6815
INFO RUEHAK/AMEMBASSY ANKARA IMMEDIATE 4054
RUEHKB/AMEMBASSY BAKU IMMEDIATE 1852
RUEHKV/AMEMBASSY KYIV IMMEDIATE 0044
RUEHMO/AMEMBASSY MOSCOW IMMEDIATE 8063
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS IMMEDIATE 0315
RUEHYE/AMEMBASSY YEREVAN IMMEDIATE 2103
RUEHLMC/MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORPORATION IMMEDIATE
RUEKJCS/SECDEF WASHDC IMMEDIATE
RHMFISS/DTRA CT WASHDC IMMEDIATE

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 TBILISI 001542 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
STATE FOR EUR/CARC, OES/S AND EB/TPP/ABT 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 06/07/2017 
TAGS: EAGR SENV PGOV TBIO GG
SUBJECT: GEORGIA: JUNE 27 UPDATE ON AFRICAN SWINE FEVER 
OUTBREAK 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 01364 
 
     B. TBILISI 1329 
 
Classified By: Ambassador John F. Tefft, reason 1.4(b) and (d) 
 
1. (C) Summary.  As of June 26, over 42,000 pigs have died of 
African Swine Fever (ASF) in Georgia with an additional 4500 
culled.  First Deputy Minister of Agriculture Bakur Kvezereli 
confirmed to Econoff the GoG strategy of containment: 
quarantine affected areas, disinfect entrance points to 
ASF-free zones, and cull stray pigs, pigs immediately 
adjacent to affected areas, and surviving pigs of infected 
herds.  GoG officials have not yet decided to cull the entire 
population of pigs - estimated to be over 550,000 before the 
outbreak.  Only six areas have not yet reported infections. 
Post's Defense Threat Reduction Office (DTRO) is providing 
testing kits, although supplies are running short.  Georgia 
is waiting to accept offers of help from other donors until 
after GoG officials - led by Prime Minister Noghaideli - 
decide on a path forward, which will be based on the results 
of an epidemiological investigation.  End Summary. 
 
2. (C) As of June 26, over 42,000 pigs have died of African 
Swine Fever (ASF) in Georgia with an additional 4500 culled. 
An additional 600 pigs are dying from ASF each day - half of 
them culled.  Regional and village officials throughout 
Georgia provide daily updates on the affected pigs to three 
dedicated 24/7 phone hotlines the Ministry of Agriculture 
(MOA) established.  Econoff visited the hotline center, which 
was staffed by five Ministry personnel keeping tallies on the 
affected pigs and areas. 
 
Strategy: Protect uninfected areas 
---------------------------------- 
 
3. (C) First Deputy Minister of Agriculture Bakur Kvezereli 
confirmed to Econoff the GoG strategy of containment: 
quarantine affected areas, disinfect entrance points to 
ASF-free zones, and cull stray pigs, pigs immediately 
adjacent to affected areas, and surviving pigs of infected 
herds.  ASF first appeared in western Georgia in May - likely 
from mismanaged waste in Poti port.  It has affected every 
region along the east-west corridor that divides Georgia, and 
is now in the eastern region of Kakheti.  Only six areas have 
not yet reported an outbreak: Adjara, Samskhe-Javakheti, two 
municipalities in Kakheti, Kazbegi, and other extremely 
mountainous regions.  GoG officials have not yet decided to 
cull the entire population of pigs - estimated to be over 
550,000.  Even though the affected geographical area has 
grown larger, the rate of infection has not increased 
significantly.  The MOA is working closely with the Ministry 
of Internal Affairs to limit the movement of pigs and 
infection, but it is not a true quarantine--only the roads 
into ASF-free zones are monitored.  Nothing prevents pigs 
from wandering across the borders elsewhere.  MOA officials 
suspect there might be two different ASF strains in Georgia, 
with one possibly originating from the feed.  At Kvezereli's 
request, Post's DTRO officer agreed to find out if Georgia, 
through its DTRO-sponsored labs, has the capability to test 
for different strains.  He also stressed the importance of 
using the labs' computerized programs in order to track the 
spread of ASF. 
 
Damage control and assistance 
----------------------------- 
 
4. (C) Kvezereli appeared confident that even the most remote 
farmers are aware of the problem, but he admitted in some 
areas, such as Kakheti in eastern Georgia and Guria in 
western Georgia, there is misinformation about how best to 
handle it.  However, some progress is being made.  He said 
that former Minister of Agriculture Mikheil "Mixo" 
Svimonishvili, currently the governor of Guria, is helping 
local farmers understand the severity of the problem, but 
that "one Mixo just isn't enough.  We need more Mixos." 
Ministry officials estimate that upwards of 90 percent of the 
swine population in Guria - where ASF first appeared in early 
May - is affected with ASF.  The high rate of infection in 
Guria coupled with Svimonishvili's efforts have convinced 
local farmers of the severity of the problem, but even in 
Guria there is not yet discussion of widespread culling. 
 
TBILISI 00001542  002 OF 002 
 
 
Kvezereli said farmers in Kakheti do not understand the 
severity of the problem yet, as they have not dealt with it 
for as long as those in Guria.  Kvezereli appeared anxious to 
more thoroughly investigate the spread of ASF and its origin 
in order to better explain the problem to the public. 
 
5. (C) Kvezereli said GEL 300,000 (approximately USD 177,000) 
is earmarked for the regions to use against ASF.  Some donors 
have of
fered to help, but so far only the USG agency DTRO has 
been in a position to provide immediate assistance.  DTRO 
supplied about 2200 reagents to test for ASF, but this is not 
enough to do the mass number of tests required if Georgia 
continues with its current strategy of containment.  The kits 
are being used at a rate of about 20 a day, and only about 
1000 remain.  Post's DTRO officer will investigate the 
possibility of bringing in expert technical assistance to 
help Georgia develop and implement a mid-term strategy.  Once 
the ASF problem passes, Kvezereli said the GoG - per 
Noghaideli's decision - is hopeful the GoG can use the 
ASF-free zones to repopulate pigs by distributing ASF-free 
piglets. 
 
6. (C) Comment.  ASF may be difficult to fully eradicate in 
Georgia.  The government is focusing on preventing the spread 
of the disease into uninfected areas and wants to avoid 
having to eradicate the entire pig population of Georgia. 
Even a total cull of the country's domestic pig population 
would not assure success, because there are many wild swine 
in remote parts of Georgia and ASF reportedly can lie dormant 
for some time in ticks and be transmitted by them.  It 
appears the GoG has a careful plan to deal with the problem 
initially, and a plan to repopulate once the problem passes. 
However, it is unclear what officials will do in the interim 
- where they will get more of the expensive reagents, what to 
do with the mass numbers of pig carcasses, and how they will 
continue the containment strategy for the requisite year to 
show there is no longer a problem.  Post's DTRO office is 
working closely with MOA officials to assist where 
appropriate and when asked, and Post will report on the GoG 
strategy as it develops.  End Comment. 
 
TEFFT

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