Ebola-Reston Goin’ Bananas

Healthbeat 1996 No. 6.jpgHealthbeat 1996 No. 6.jpg

Just the thought of Ebola being in the Philippines sends chills to everyone’s spine. Ebola virus disease is an African Hemorrhagic Fever classified as extremely biohazardous disease because of its very high fatality rate. It has an incubation period of five to 10 days and there is no known cure.

The illness is characterized by sudden onset of flu-like symptoms: malaise, fever, myalgia, headache, pharyngitis, followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rashes and other hemorrhagic manifestations.

Monkeys and other primates have been known to harbor the virus and can transmit this to humans when they come in contact with them, like bites and scratches. Person-to-person transmission occurs by direct contact of infected blood, secretions, organs or semen.

Ebola outbreaks have been reported in the African nations of Zaire, Sudan and Ivory Coast leaving hundreds of people dead.

Then in April, Ebola emerged in the local scene. Two monkeys imported from the Philippines died from Ebola virus infection in Alice, Texas, USA.

Although the Ebola-Reston has not been found to cause illness among humans, the Department of Health formed a multi-agency Philippine Filovirus Study Committee to conduct an investigation. Scientists from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA were also invited to conduct studies on four monkeys exported in the country.

It later turned out that the monkeys were infected with Ebola Reston which affects and kills only monkeys. The Reston strain is different from the African strains of Ebola virus.

Finally, there was no cause for alarm.