April 01, 2009


 Pigs, people in Philippines contract Ebola virus

Posted March 15, 2009

Health officials have isolated an Ebola virus in swine for the first time globally, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.

In late 2008, international reference laboratories confirmed that swine on farms in the Philippines had contracted the Reston strain of the Ebola virus. The country's health department later announced that several locals who worked with pigs or with pork had antibodies to the Ebola-Reston virus, but all of them appeared to be in good health as of late February.

In response to the situation, the Philippines placed a hold on exports of pigs and pork. The country's agriculture department depopulated swine that carried the Ebola-Reston virus and advised residents to buy meat only from sources that the National Meat Inspection Service had certified.

Scientists have identified five strains of Ebola virus—Zaire, Sudan, Ivory Coast, Bundibugyo, and Reston. In Africa, the Sudan and Bundibugyo strains have caused major outbreaks of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in humans, with mortality rates from 25 percent to 90 percent. No reports have surfaced of humans becoming seriously ill from infection with the Reston strain.

The FAO, World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), and World Health Organization are assisting the government of the Philippines in investigating the recent infection of pigs and people with the Ebola-Reston virus.

Health officials in the Philippines first found the Ebola-Reston virus in monkeys in the late 1980s.