Following the detection of the Ebola-Reston virus in pigs in the Philippines, FAO, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Health Organization (WHO) will send experts to further investigate the situation.
An increase in pig mortality on swine farms in the provinces of Nueva Ecija and Bulacan in 2007 and 2008 prompted the Government of the Philippines to initiate laboratory investigations. Samples taken from ill pigs in May, June and September 2008 were sent to international reference laboratories which confirmed in late October that the pigs were infected with a highly virulent strain of Porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) as well as the Ebola-Reston virus.
Although co-infection in pigs is not unusual, this is the first time globally that an Ebola-Reston virus has been isolated in swine. It is not, however, the first time that the Ebola-Reston virus has been found in the Philippines: it was found in monkeys from the Philippines in outbreaks that occurred in 1989-1990, 1992, and 1996.
The Ebola virus belongs to the Filoviridae
family (filovirus) and is comprised of five distinct species: Zaïre, Sudan, Côte d'Ivoire, Bundibugyo and Reston. Zaïre, Sudan and Bundibugyo species have been associated with large Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) outbreaks in Africa with high case fatality ratio (25-90%) while Côte d'Ivoire and Reston have not. Reston species can infect humans but no serious illness or death in humans have been reported to date.
Since being informed of this event in late November, FAO, OIE and WHO have been making every effort to gain a better understanding of the situation and are working closely with the Philippines Government and local animal and human health experts.
The planned joint FAO/OIE/WHO team will work with country counterparts to address, through field and laboratory investigation, important questions as to the source of the virus, its transmission, its virulence and its natural habitat, in order to provide appropriate guidance for animal and human health protection.
Source: FAO – Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations