Philippines to kill 6000 ebola-infected pigs

February 24th, 2009 - 6:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Manila, Feb 24 (DPA) The Philippines’ Agriculture Department ordered the extermination of about 6,000 pigs afflicted with the ebola Reston virus as health officials said Tuesday that a sixth infected person was found.
A Health Department statement said a pig-farm worker in a northern Philippine province “showed signs of anti-bodies for ebola Reston, indicating he may have been infected with the virus in the past.”

This brings to six the total number of pig-farm workers found to be infected with the virus since late last year.

The Health Department said all the infected farm workers have remained healthy during the past 12 months.

Davinio Catbagan, director of the Bureau of Animal Industry, said the culling of the hogs in a farm in Pandi town, Bulacan province, 35 km north of Manila, would be done within two to three days.

“After we dispose of the 6,000 hogs, which were positive for the ebola Reston virus in Pandi, we will start inspecting other farms not only in Bulacan but also in nearby provinces,” he said.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said the 6,000 hogs to be killed represented 0.5 percent of the 13 million pigs raised throughout the country.

Experts from international organisations, including the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Health Organization (WHO), are helping the Philippines address the problem.

The ebola Reston virus was first detected late last year at several hog farms in three northern provinces and Manila.

WHO noted that it was the first time that the virus has been found outside monkeys and the first time ever worldwide that it has been found in swine.

Ebola Reston is one of five species of the virus. It can infect humans but without causing serious illness or death, unlike the Zaire, Bundibugyo and Sudan strains, according to the FAO.

The ebola Reston strain was discovered in the United States in 1989 in association with an outbreak of viral hemorrhagic fever among monkeys imported from the Philippines to Reston, Virginia. The virus was found among Philippine monkeys in the United States again in 1990 and 1996.

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