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PIA Press Release
2009/02/06

4 more pig farm workers infected

Dagupan City (6 February) -- Four more people in the country have been discovered infected by the Ebola-Reston virus and the possibility of pig-to-human transmission cannot be dismissed now, the government said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said it was not a major health risk yet, adding that the government was however widening testing of people who might have been in contact with sick pig at hog farms in Bulacan and Pangasinan placed under quarantine since October 2008.

"The Ebola-Reston virus is both an animal and human health issue, but we still consider this as a low risk situation to human health," Duque said.

He said experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Organization for Animal Health had been asked to determine the source and risk of the Ebola-Reston virus in pigs and impact on food security.

It is the first time the virus has been found outside monkeys and the first time it has been found in pigs. The virus had previously jumped from monkeys to humans but it is the first case of a jump from hogs.

Ebola-Reston virus was found in the Philippines as an early as the late 1980's when 25 people were found infected after contact with sick monkeys. But only one developed flu-like symptoms and later recovered.

Last week, the government said at least 50 workers in the two farms were exposed to the virus but only one person tested positive initially. This person, whose identity has not been disclosed, has not shown any symptoms and has remained healthy.

Four others were later reported also similarly testing positive for the virus. None of them so far has exhibited any illnesses, health authorities claim. Three of them were farm workers while one was a butcher.

"At this time, the possibility of pig-to-human transmission cannot be dismissed," Duque told media late last week.

"Contact tracing of all five positive individuals is on-going, it is a standard procedure to determine health risks to humans who are in close contact with positive individuals," said.

He said all the four men who were found positive remain healthy and have not been seriously ill in the past 12 months. (PIA Pangasinan) [top]

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