December 16, 2008


Philippines stops first pork shipments


The Philippines has halted its first pork exports to Singapore after traces of low pathogenic Ebola-Reston virus were found on some hog farms in the country.


The 50,000 tonne-shipment was supposed to be the country's first ever pork export and were set to be sent to Singapore on December 10.


According to the Bureau of Animal Industry director Davinio Catbagan, the government voluntarily stopped the shipment due to food safety concerns and have informed Singapore's AgriFood and Veterinary Authority (AVA) about the Ebola-Reston virus among pigs in four northern areas in the country.


Singapore has yet to reply on this issue, said Catbagan.


The presence of the Ebola-Reston virus in some pigs in four farms in the country was the first such case anywhere in the world, Caroline-Ann Coulombe, a spokeswoman of the World Health Organization (WHO) in Manila.


However, WHO still considered the case as a 'low public health risk' because the Ebola virus strain found in the Philippines was not known to be fatal in humans in the past, Coulombe said.


All tests conducted on workers from the hog farms and butchers from slaughterhouses handling the pigs from the farms yielded negative for the presence of the Ebola-Reston virus, according to the agriculture and health departments.


The Ebola-Reston virus had been previously detected in some Philippine monkeys.


Although WHO was informed about the Ebola-Reston virus among pigs around the third week of November, Coulumbe said the infection was discovered as early as May this year.


Laboratory results confirming the presence of Ebola-Reston virus were confirmed only in October, she said, adding the WHO was not aware of the extent of the infection among pigs.

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