Err on side of caution on Ebola virus – Loren
Senator Loren Legarda, chairperson of the Senate Committees on Agriculture and Food and Health and Demography, said yesterday the government must not spare any effort in containing the Ebola Reston hog virus despite assurance by the department of health and agriculture that it is not transmissible.
"Let’s err on the side of caution in not dismissing this outbreak just because it is said to be non-transmissible from the affected animals to humans," said Loren, adding that the DA should employ stringent measures to ensure that the infected pigs from the four farms in Luzon are not transported for slaughter.
"While it has been asserted by Department of Health (DoH), as well as WHO (World Health Organization) officials, that the Ebola Reston virus is harmless to humans, even when an animal that had harbored it had been consumed, the DoH should do more exhaustive tests and studies," Loren said.
Noting reports that the Ebola Reston virus had been transferred from monkeys to hogs, Loren said health officials should determine its transmissibility to other animals.
She said that lessons learned from the SARS virus, which also emanated from animals at several stages before becoming transmissible to humans, should be considered. The SARS coronavirus infected several types of animals first before crossing the "xenographic" barrier to humans from the civet cats.
The senator also urged the public to make sure they buy pork only from authorized sellers whose products had been properly inspected by the National Meat Inspection Service of the Department of Agriculture.
"As in all meat products, they should be washed and cooked properly to kill bacteria or viruses, if any are present. This basic sanitary practice should be be S.O.P (standard operating procedure) even when this problem had been solved."
The DA had said that pigs infected with the virus had been detected in two commercial farms and two backyard farms in Bulacan, Pangasinan and Nueva Ecija. (Rolly T Carandang)
Meanwhile, City veterinarian Dr. Ana Marie Cabel, who led police and city hall personnel in the confiscation of the "hot" meat, said the confiscated products have been brought to the Payatas dumpsite for disposal.
Cabel said they will intensify the monitoring and inspection of markets following reports that the Ebola Reston virus infected pigs in four hog farms in Luzon. (Jeffrey G. Damicog)