December 23, 2008

U.S. agencies probing pig Ebola outbreak

The world's first reported cases of the Ebola-Reston virus in hogs in the Philippines is under investigation, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

The Philippine government asked the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, the world Organization for Human Health and the WHO to send experts to investigate the outbreak, the Food and Agriculture Organization said in a news release.

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 Philippine Government and local animal and human health experts, the U.N. agency said.

Experts are conducting field and lab testing to locate the source of the virus, how it moves, its natural habitat and virulence to help direct animal and human health protection, the organization said.

Lab reports in October confirmed pigs on farms in the Nueva Ecija and Bulacan provinces were infected with the Ebola-Reston virus and a virulent strain of Porcine Reproductive and Respiratory Syndrome.

The syndrome can't be transmitted to humans. The Reston-Ebola virus can infect humans, but no deaths or serious illnesses have been reported yet, the United Nations said.