Inspection widened after spread of Ebola strain

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 24 2009 09:18 AM | Updated as of Feb 25 2009 04:20 AM

Following the order to depopulate 6,000 pigs with Ebola Reston Virus (ERV) in certain farms in Bulacan, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has decided to expand its monitoring and surveillance to neighboring provinces.

Director Dave Catbagan of the DA's Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) said they will be begin their inspection of hog farms in the whole of Central Luzon, Calabarzon, and Pangasinan province in the Ilocos region after the disposal of the 6,000 infected pigs in Pandi, Bulacan.

Catbagan said the slaughter is set to be commenced within the week, with the ocular inspection of the pig farms in Pandi scheduled today.

"As a precautionary measure, while there are many questions left unanswered, these ERV-contaminated pigs should be extinguished so we can move forward and study the virus," Catbagan said in an interview at ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda."

DA Secretary Arthur Yap reported Monday in a press conference that there is an ongoing spread of the ERV among pigs in Pandi, Bulacan, while quarantine of the hog farm in Palauig, Pangasinan has been lifted after finding no traces of viral transmission.

Meanwhile, Catbagan said the DA, along with health experts, will continue their study of the ERV's symptoms and effects on pigs, and possibly to humans. The joint investigation started last January 5.

Clean, cooked pork still safe

In an interview at ABS-CBN's "Umagang Kay Ganda," Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said it is still safe to eat pork amid the ERV scare, provided that the four guidelines set by the DA and the Department of Health are followed. According to him, these include the following:

1. Make sure the meat is thoroughly cooked, leaving no raw areas (usually indicated by red or pink spots). Juices secreted by the meat should be clear.

2. Proper handling and preparation of food should always be followed. 

3. Unusual occurences such as herds of pigs dying or getting sick should be reported to the proper authorities (DA and DOH).

4. Avoid buying double-dead meat, which is banned from being sold in markets.