December 19, 2008

Ebola found in Philippine pigs

Global health officials are investigating a strain of the Ebola virus found in dead pigs in the Philippines.

The Reston strain had previously only been seen in monkeys, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Peter Cordingley, a spokesman for the World Health Organization's office in Manila, said it is unclear whether the virus holds any risk to human, the newspaper said.

When a virus jumps species, in this case from monkeys to pigs, we become concerned, particularly as pigs are much closer to humans than monkeys in their ability to harbor viruses, Cordingley told the newspaper.

Philippine authorities say there have been no signs of human infection. It is not known whether any of the pigs were sold for human consumption.

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization said the Reston strain is transmitted by air, unlike African strains that are transmitted through bodily fluids.