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30 July, 2009

Ebola in pigs 'new health threat'

With the possibly vengeful return of A(H1N1) Swine flu (which never really left) breathing down all our necks these next few months, all we need is another looming health catastrophe. But now, we learn that a member of the Ebola family of viruses has been found in pigs and we are justifiable concerned.

This news apparently first appeared in the journal Science, and could signal the earliest indication of an emerging health threat. "... Reston Ebola virus, known as REBOV... is known to cause disease only in non-human primates, although it has been detected in humans as well.

It gets its name from a laboratory in Reston, Virginia, which found it in monkeys sent from the Philippines in 1989.

Study co-author and top Philippines animal health official Magdalena Cruz said the virus could become far more of a threat to humans if it got the chance to mutate in pigs, which often provide an intermediate stage for mutation to a form that causes disease in people."

Further research revealed that it has been in the pig population for quite some time, as long as with the monkeys. They think perhaps bats are responsible for bridging the gap between those two species as "[b]ats have played a role in Ebola transmission in the past."


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