Palace raises alert vs Ebola virus

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordered the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Agriculture (DA) to closely monitor the outbreak of the Ebola strain even as Malacanang raised the alert button against the virus especially amid the Yuletide Season.

The Palace, however, assured the public that government is taking all necessary steps to ensure their health and safety, pointing out that the virus is not known to infect humans but rather an animal health issue.

Deputy presidential spokesperson Lorelei Fajardo said the Palace endorses the health advisory issued by secretaries Francisco Duque (DOH), and Arthur Yap (DA).

Fajardo cautioned the public to buy meat only from meat stalls where the products are properly certified by the National Inspection Service of the DA, and the DOH

“We are working together to control it but this strain is not known to infect humans and is an animal health issue,” Fajardo said.

For his part, deputy presidential spokesman Anthony Golez Jr. assured that there have been no recorded human deaths resulting from the Ebola Reston Virus.

“We have to differentiate Ebola virus and Ebola Reston virus. The Ebola virus is found in African monkeys and are very fatal. Ebola Reston is a virus that has low pathogenicity,” Golez said.

It will be recalled that the DA and the DOH earlier announced the detection of the Ebola Reston strain virus in pigs in two commercial farms and two backyard farms in Bulacan and Nueva Ecija.

Duque and Yap assured the public that the detection of the Ebola Reston strain virus is not a human health problem.

The DA and its agencies led by the Bureau of Animal Industries accidentally discovered the virus while investigation the previous outbreak of the Porcine Reproductive Respiratory Syndrome (PRRS),which affected the local hog industry last year.

The test was conducted in May, June and September this year.

Upon detection of the Ebola Reston strain virus, the infected pigs were killed. Infected hogs displayed flu like symptoms.

Experts from the World Health Organization led by Dr. Soe Nyunt assured the public that there is so far no data or evidence that the Ebola Reston strain virus detected in the four farms can infect humans.

Golez said that the virus was discovered by the United States in 1986 since the Philippines regularly exports monkeys in the U.S.

There was a batch of dead monkeys then, he said. Later, the U.S. experts tracked down the Filipino handlers of the dead monkeys.

It was discovered that out of the 25 Filipino handlers, six had Ebola Reston virus.

Of the six, only one developed flu like symptoms. It was discovered that the handlers developed anti bodies against it so it is not fatal.

He said that from the epidemiological standpoint, humans have high tolerance on this virus.

This year, an Ebola Reston outbreak was discovered in Luzon. There are pigs that died because of this but only 6 of these had the virus.

The virus dies at 70 degrees Celsius which is below boiling point so just like any other food, so we have to make sure that the food eaten are prepared properly and properly cooked.