Friday, January 30, 2009
For those of you obsessed with worst-case scenarios, the New York Times ran a story (here) on January 23, 2009 about the confirmation of the transmission of the Ebola virus from a pig to its human pig handler in the Philippines. While this strain of the virus, Ebola Reston, is not dangerous to humans, the development is potentially troubling because humans are in contact with pigs much more often than they are with monkeys and apes, the known hosts of the Ebola virus and the vectors for the spread of hemorrhagic fever in Africa. Ebola Reston is normally a monkey virus; scientists think that it was spread to the pigs by fruit bats. The article indicates that scientists aren't particularly worried about this news. As one expert on pathogens noted, "It's probably a rare event that pigs get infected."