Press Release
December 13, 2008

Err on side of caution on Ebola Reston - Loren

Senator Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food and Health and Demography, said yesterday that despite fears being allayed by the agriculture and health departments, as well as by the World Health Organization (WHO), the government must not spare any effort in containing the Ebola Reston hog virus.

"Let's err on the side of caution in not dismissing this outbreak just because it is said to be non-transmissible from the affected animals to humans," said Loren, adding that

the DA should employ stringent measures to ensure that the infected pigs from the four farms in Luzon are not transported for slaughter.

"While it has been asserted by Department of Health, as well as WHO officials, that the Ebola Reston virus is harmless to humans, even when an animal that had harbored it had been consumed, the DOH should do more exhaustive tests and studies," Loren said.

Noting reports that the Ebola Reston virus had been transferred from monkeys to hogs, Loren said health officials should determine its transmissibility to other animals.

She said that lessons learned from the SARS virus, which also emanated from animals at several stages before becoming transmissible to humans, should be considered. The SARS coronavirus infected several types of animals first before crossing the "xenographic" barrier to humans from the civet cats.

The senator also urged the public to make sure they buy pork only from authorized sellers whose products had been properly inspected by the National Meat Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture.

"As in all meat products, they should be washed and cooked properly to kill bacterias or viruses, if any are present. This basic sanitary practice should be

be S.O.P (standard operating procedure) even when this problem had been solved."

She expressed support to the DA's pledge to provide assistance to affected farms as they are quarantined to stop the spread of the virus.

The DA had said that pigs infected with the virus had been detected in two commercial farms and two backyard farms in Bulacan, Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija.

Pigs infected with the Ebola Reston virus display flu-like symptoms.

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