Discovery Of Ebola In Pigs Raises Food Safety Concerns

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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Scientists studying a strain of Ebola virus found in domestic pigs in the Philippines last year suggest that although the particular strain is not one linked to disease in humans its emergence in the human food chain is cause for concern.

Ebola and Marburg viruses belong to the filovirus family, which cause hemorrhagic fever, characterized by bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea, and a 90 per cent death rate.

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Outbreaks of infection appear to happen in humans and primates at random, making it very important to locate sources of host organisms that could be acting as potential reservoirs.

Ebola-Reston was found in pigs raised on farms near Manila, the capital of the Philippines after farmers reported high rates of sickness and deaths among their livestock in May 2008.

The infected pigs were originally investigated because they were experiencing an unusually severe outbreak of porcine reproductive and respiratory disease syndrome.

The concern is that pig herds could be convenient hosts for Reston to mutate into a form that does cause illness in humans, and also, if pigs can be hosts to Reston, as this outbreak reveals, then perhaps they could also be hosts to other Ebola strains that do cause harm to humans.

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