Culling of pigs ordered as Ebola strain spreads

by MARIA ALTHEA TEVES, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak

Posted at Feb 23 2009 07:32 PM | Updated as of Feb 25 2009 07:22 PM

The Ebola Reston Virus (ERV) has spread among 6,000 pigs of all ages in a hog farm in Pandi, Bulacan, and they need to be killed or depopulated to prevent it from further spreading, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap said.

"But the good news is, there are no traces of viral transmission in Palauig, Pangasinan," Yap told a news conference on Monday.

Experts said that depopulation of pigs must be undertaken to prevent the further spread of the virus.
   
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III recalled that depopulation was undertaken to stop the spread of the virus from crab-eating macaque monkeys in 1996.

"If we can, we should do depopulation within the week. We are organizing 30 workers to do that," Bureau of Animal Industry Director Davinio Catbagan said.

Although 6,000 pigs will be depopulated, "that is only 0.5% of the 13 million pigs. We have enough supply in the country," said Duque.

Yap said that after depopulation, quarantine and monitoring programs are undertaken, farmers will be allowed to resume commercial operations. They will also be allowed to get pigs from other farms so they can "get back on their feet."

So far, the maintenance of the affected farms and on going ERV investigations has cost the government less than 10 million pesos.