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‘Ebola Reston no life threat to humans’ – DoH

The Department of Health (DOH) said

Health Secretary Janette Garin

over the weekend that the Ebola Reston Virus (ERV) found in monkey kept in an undisclosed facility in the Philippines does not pose life threats to people.

DoH said ERV cases among monkeys confirmed positive in the Philippines. The Department of Agriculture together with DOH is currently tracing the possible source of the virus.

Health Secretary Janette P. Loreto Garin explained that ERV can be transmitted to humans, without resulting into illness.

“The threat to human health is likely to be low or none for healthy adults. In order to ensure the safety of the staff in the said facility, blood samples were collected from all employees and were sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine for ERV antibodies using ELISA or Enzyme Immunosorbent assay,” Garin said in a press statement.

The results yielded negative for ERV. While it does not cause any human illness, the DOH will continue to monitor the health status of the staff currently employed in the said facility.

“Maraming klase ng Ebola. Meron Ebola na grabe ang epekto sa hayop ngunit hindi naapektuhan ang tao. This is a possible case of Ebola Reston. Ito ang pinakamabait na Ebola Virus sa tao  (There many kinds of Ebola. There is one which affects animals but not to humans,),” Garin added.

“We call on the public not to panic as wrong information may lead to more harm than help in the community. Vigilance is still needed. Let us be pre-cautious, and adhere to the reminders given by the DOH. This is not something new and was present in the Philippines before. Allow us to emphasize that the present situation is limited to monkeys.,” Garin said.

It will be recalled on October 2, 1989, 100 cynomolgus macaques (Macaca fascicularis) from a big farm in Mindanao were flown from Manila, through Amsterdam to New York, and then transported by truck to Hazleton Research Products’ (HRP) Reston Primate Quarantine Unit in Reston, Virginia.

These monkeys were placed in Room F of the Reston Unit on October 4. HRP’s Reston Unit already had approximately 500 cynomolgus monkeys when this shipment arrived.

There had not been any African species quarantined in the Reston unit for many years, ergo it is not possibile that the monkeys contracted Ebola from fomites contaminated by a prior shipment of monkeys.

Because of the 1976 Marburg incident, all primates imported into the United States must be quarantined for 30 days to insure that they are disease free before they are released. In any transcontinental shipment of animals, a high attrition rate is to be expected due to this experience.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Ebola virus disease (EVD), formerly known as Ebola haemorrhagic fever, is a severe, often fatal illness in humans.

The virus is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads in the human population through human-to-human transmission, WHO explained in its website

The average EVD case fatality rate is around 50%. Case fatality rates have varied from 25% to 90% in past outbreaks.

The first EVD outbreaks occurred in remote villages in Central Africa, near tropical rainforests, but the most recent outbreak in West Africa has involved major urban as well as rural areas.

Community engagement is key to successfully controlling outbreaks. Good outbreak control relies on applying a package of interventions, namely case management, surveillance and contact tracing, a good laboratory service, safe burials and social mobilisation.

Early supportive care with rehydration, symptomatic treatment improves survival. There is as yet no licensed treatment proven to neutralise the virus but a range of blood, immunological and drug therapies are under development. There are currently no licensed Ebola vaccines but two potential candidates are undergoing evaluation, according to WHO.

The Ebola virus causes an acute, serious illness which is often fatal if untreated. Ebola virus disease (EVD) first appeared in 1976 in two simultaneous outbreaks, one in Nzara, Sudan, and the other in Yambuku, Democratic Republic of Congo. The latter occurred in a village near the Ebola River, from which the disease takes its name.

The current outbreak in West Africa, (first cases notified in March 2014), is the largest and most complex Ebola outbreak since the Ebola virus was first discovered in 1976.

There have been more cases and deaths in this outbreak than all others combined. It has also spread between countries starting in Guinea then spreading across land borders to Sierra Leone and Liberia, by air (one traveller) to Nigeria and USA (one traveller), and by land to Senegal (one traveller) and Mali (two travellers).

The most severely affected countries, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, have very weak health systems, lack human and infrastructural resources, and have only recently emerged from long periods of conflict and instability.

On August 8, the WHO Director-General declared the West Africa outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern under the International Health Regulations (2005).

The virus family Filoviridae includes three genera: Cuevavirus, Marburgvirus, and Ebolavirus. There are five species that have been identified: Zaire, Bundibugyo, Sudan, Reston and Taï Forest.

The first three, Bundibugyo ebolavirus, Zaire ebolavirus, and Sudan ebolavirus have been associated with large outbreaks in Africa. The virus causing the 2014 West African outbreak belongs to the Zaire species. (Joel C. Atencio)

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