Philippine Pork Shipments Halted

by 5m Editor
16 December 2008, at 6:28am

MANILA - The Philippines has stopped a shipment of 50,000 tonnes of pork to Singapore after traces of low pathogenic Ebola-Reston virus were found on some hog farms in the country.

The shipment was supposed to be the country's first ever pork export, according to The Straits Times. The pork products were set to be sent to Singapore on 10 December when the government voluntarily stopped the shipment due to food safety concerns, said Davinio Catbagan, director of the government's animal industry bureau.

The Philippines has informed Singapore's AgriFood and Veterinary Authority (AVA) about the Ebola-Reston virus among pigs in four northern areas in the country, Mr Catbagan said.

"We're still waiting for their reply," Mr Catbagan told reporters.

The presence of the Ebola-Reston virus in some pigs in four farms in the country was the first such case anywhere in the world, Caroline-Ann Coulombe, a spokeswoman of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in Manila, told Reuters.

But the WHO still considered the case as 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, Ms Coulombe said.

The Philippines has said all tests conducted on workers from the hog farms and butchers from slaughterhouses handling the pigs from the farms yielded negative for the presence of the Ebola-Reston virus.

The Ebola-Reston virus had been previously detected in some Philippine monkeys.

"At the moment, based on historical precedence with the monkeys and based on the fact that the health and agriculture departments have been conducting tests on humans that may have been in contact with the infected pigs during those times, the WHO considers this a low public health risk," Ms Coulombe said.

She said the WHO was informed about the Ebola-Reston virus among pigs around the third week of November but the infection was discovered as early as May this year.

Laboratory results confirming the presence of Ebola-Reston virus were confirmed only in October, said Coulombe, adding the WHO was not aware of the extent of the infection among pigs.

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