Saturday, December 13, 2008

ebola virus in pigs

Financial Times | Philippine officials tucked into servings of lechon, the popular dish of roasted whole pig, in front of television cameras on Thursday to reassure the public of the safety of the national staple meat after the discovery among hogs near Manila of a strain of the Ebola virus.

Arthur Yap, agriculture secretary, and Francisco Duque, health secretary, said the Ebola Reston virus, which had never been found in pigs before, presented a low health risk for humans and was different from the deadly African variety.

The World Health Organisation was reported to be looking into whether there was any chance humans could have become infected.

The outbreak could deal a blow to Philippine plans to build a pork export industry. The government halted an inaugural shipment of frozen pork to Singapore and quarantined three swine farms.

Pork vendors in public markets in Manila sought to assure buyers that their products had passed government inspection and met safety standards.

“December is the month when we sell the most pork at relatively higher price,” said Evelyn Reyes, who operates a small pork stall in Quezon City. “I really hope the government does a good work of calming people’s fears about the Ebola virus.”

Pork accounts for more than half of the average 61g of meat consumed daily by each Filipino.

The virus was first discovered in 1989 in macaque monkeys imported from the Philippines by a laboratory in Reston, Virginia. Scientists are trying to determine how the virus spread to pigs.