FAO Asked to Investigate Ebola in Pigs

THE PHILIPPINES - The Philippines has asked the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) for help in stopping the spread of Ebola-Reston virus after an infection was found in some hog farms early this year.
calendar icon 17 December 2008
clock icon 3 minute read

The agriculture department has sent requests to the FAO to test an initial 10,000 swine in two quarantined hog farms in northern Luzon island, Davinio Catbagan, director of bureau of animal and industry (BAI), said in a statement.

"We would like to determine the source of the infection," Mr Catbagan said.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said it considers the case a "low public health risk" because the Ebola virus strain found in the Philippines was not known to be fatal in humans in the past, reports IOL.

Mr Catbagan said a team of experts from the FAO and the WHO would also assist in setting up diagnostic and prevention and communications plans.

The agriculture department said only six of 28 tissue samples from pigs have been found with traces of the Ebola-Reston virus when these were sent for tests at the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the United States in October.

An additional 94 samples collected from pigs in the affected farms in two provinces have been found to be negative for traces of Ebola-Reston virus when tested at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in the Philippines, the statement said.

On Monday, the Philippines announced the voluntary withdrawal of a shipment of 50,000 tons of pork to Singapore after traces of the low pathogenic Ebola-Reston virus were found.

The shipment was to be the country's first ever pork export.

The presence of the Ebola-Reston virus in some pigs in two commercial farms and two backyard farms in the country was the first such case anywhere in the world, Caroline-Ann Coulombe, a WHO spokesperson in Manila, has said.

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