Viewing cable 07VILNIUS172
Title: LITHUANIA: ADEQUATE PLANS FOR AVIAN INFLUENZA

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07VILNIUS1722007-03-13 15:03:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Vilnius
VZCZCXYZ0024
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHVL #0172 0721503
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 131503Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY VILNIUS
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 1084
UNCLAS VILNIUS 000172 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: KFLU TBIO LH
SUBJECT: LITHUANIA: ADEQUATE PLANS FOR AVIAN INFLUENZA 
 
REF: (A) SECSTATE 22992, (B) 06 Vilnius 223 and previous 
 
¶1. SUMMARY. The Government of Lithuania (GOL) has had plans for 
combating Avian Influenza (AI) since 2005.  The GOL has taken 
several steps to prepare for or detect AI including exercises, avian 
livestock management, and testing of dead birds.  There has been 
extensive inter-departmental cooperation and -- relative to the 
country's size -- there is a significant commitment of resources 
(570,000 USD in 2006).  End Summary. 
 
Lithuania has adequate plans and exercises for AI 
--------------------------------------------- ---- 
 
¶2. The GOL has two plans that deal with Avian Influenza (AI).  The 
Ministry of Health (MOH) has an "Influenza Pandemic Preparedness 
Plan" and the State Food and Veterinary Service (SFVS) has an "Avian 
Influenza and Newcastle Disease Contingency Plan."  The Ministry of 
Health is currently updating its plan for 2007-2008.  The MOH's 
2005-2006 plan is available (in Lithuanian) online at 
www.vvspt.lt/uzkr(underscore)pauksciu.php.  The website is also a 
public information resource.  Vice-Minister of Health Romualdas 
Sabaliauskas told us that Lithuania meets all EU requirements for 
preparations to deal with an outbreak of AI. 
 
¶3. The SFVS has conducted two AI simulation exercises (one in 
October 2005, one on March 6, 2006), and will conduct a third April 
15-18, 2007.  The exercises involve municipal officials, regional 
veterinary services, national veterinary labs, the Ministry of 
Defense, the National Police, and the Fire Protection Service. 
 
¶4. The SFVS has conducted tests for AI on over 1,500 dead birds 
since2005.  They also conducted a risk study in 2006.  The study 
concluded that there is an "average-high" risk of an AI outbreak in 
Lithuania.  The study also concluded that the risk is highest in the 
spring bird migration season when birds from other areas, possibly 
including high-risk areas or areas with confirmed cases of AI, come 
to Lithuania.  The study is available in Lithuanian, online at 
www.vet.lt/rvc.  Several times, the SFVS has imposed a ban on 
keeping birds outdoors during high-risk periods, and enforcement of 
the ban reportedly has been good.  The Vice-Director of SFVS, 
Vidmantas Paulauskas, told us that, like last year, Lithuania would 
institute a ban on keeping birds outdoors during the spring 
migration period.  Lithuania has imposed a ban on the import of 
poultry from countries affected by AI.  Since December 2006, the 
SFVS has strengthened veterinary controls and checks at borders, 
rail and bus stations, and at poultry markets. 
 
¶5. The GOL continues to take the threat of AI seriously.  The SFVS 
will introduce a new program called "Active Observation of AI" at 
the end of March 2007.  Under this program, all regional offices of 
the SFVS will be obligated to hunt for several species of migrating 
birds in each of the 44 regions of Lithuania and test them for AI. 
 
 
¶6. The GOL's biggest shortcoming in dealing with an outbreak of AI 
is its limited supply of anti-viral treatment.  Even in this area, 
however, the GOL is taking steps to improve its readiness.  In 2007, 
it will spend 38,000 USD for the anti-viral medication oseltamivir. 
Vytautas Gailius, director of the MOH's Emergency Situations Center, 
told us that many private pharmacies also have supplies of 
anti-viral medicine. 
 
Comment 
------- 
 
¶7. We are considerably more confident of the GOL's state of 
preparedness than when we last reported on this issue one year ago 
(ref b).  Lithuania has taken many steps to prepare for an outbreak 
of AI.  It has met all EU requirements for AI preparedness and 
received a "good" rating from EU inspectors in Spring 2006.  Post 
believes the GOL would handle an outbreak truthfully in terms of 
reporting and would be good at quarantining affected areas, which 
would be handled by the Ministry of Defense.  Overall, 
inter-departmental cooperation has been good.  The GOL continues to 
try to improve its preparedness with new programs, plans, medical 
supplies, and exercises. 
 
CLOUD