Ebola Reston Found Again in Philippines

PHILIPPINES - The order has gone out to slaughter 6,000 pigs amid the latest Ebola Reston virus scare.
calendar icon 23 February 2009
clock icon 4 minute read
The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday ordered the depopulation of 6,000 pigs in a Bulacan farm in northern Philippines believed to have been affected by the Ebola Reston virus (ERV), reports GMA News TV.

Agriculture Secretary, Arthur Yap, said the pigs were from a farm in the town of Pandi and would be killed to prevent the spread of the virus.

"In Pandi, Bulacan, there are traces and evidence of an on-going viral transmission. And for that reason we are ordering the depopulation of the herd," Mr Yap said in a joint-press conference of the DA and the Department of Health (DOH) in Quezon City.

During the depopulation, the pigs would be restricted from going out of the farm before they would be incapacitated, burned, then buried.

The government said it would observe a 'humane killing' policy for the pigs and prevent human exposure during the process. International observers are also expected to participate in the depopulation.

The Philippine government, through the help of Regional Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and the United States Centers for Disease Control (US-CDC), tested 160 pig blood samples: 133 of which came from the Bulacan farm and 27 from the Pangasinan farm.

Of the 133 blood samples from Bulacan, 19 tested positive for ERV. Meanwhile, none of 27 samples from Pangasinan was affected. The results prompted the government to order the depopulation of the pigs from the Bulacan pig farm and lifted the quarantine in the Pangasinan farm.

Health Secretary, Francisco Duque III, quelled fears that humans could be afflicted with the virus, saying that the Ebola Reston virus "remains a low risk to human health at this time." Mr Duque added that ERV remains the only strain not to cause significant illness to humans.

Despite the slaughtering of 6,000 pigs, the government agencies assured that it would not have any adverse effects to the stock supply in the country as the number would only account for less than one per cent of the total 15-million pig stock in the Philippines.

Mr Yap also assured that there were no "abnormal deaths" in the farms but that they were just depopulating as a "precautionary measure" to make sure the virus would not spread out further.

A health scare erupted in December last year when the DA and the DOH announced that at least one hog farmer in Central Luzon was found to have been infected.

But only traces of the virus were left in the victim's body, an indication that his body was able to fight off the virus.

The following month, the government announced four additional cases of hog farmers contracting the virus. All farmers, the DA assured, are in good health condition.

The latest announcement came days after the agency barred the importation of cattle from China and poultry from Belgium, following confirmed cases of foot-and-mouth disease and the avian flu, according to GMANews.TV.

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