Canada lab probes pig link to Ebola virus

November 15, 2012
File picture of a piglet at an international agricultural fair in Paris in 2010. Could pigs be an unexpected source for transmitting the deadly Ebola virus? That is the question raised by a Canadian lab study, which says six piglets deliberately infected with Ebola passed the virus on to macaque monkeys housed in wire cages inside their pig pen.

Could pigs be an unexpected source for transmitting the deadly Ebola virus?

That is the question raised by a Canadian lab study, which says six piglets deliberately infected with Ebola passed the virus on to housed in wire cages inside their pig pen.

All four monkeys caught the virus through indirect contact, according to the investigation carried out at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg.

Further work is needed but the findings are worrying as macaques are close genetic relatives to humans, said the researchers.

are a known "reservoir," or bolthole, for the Ebola virus, and people have also contracted the disease after handling infected chimps, gorillas, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelope and porcupines.

But this research suggests that wild or could also be a natural host, said the study, published in the journal Scientific Reports.

And it strengthens suspicions that the pathogen can be transmitted by airborne droplets, in addition to contact with infected blood.

"Our findings support the hypothesis that may contribute to (Ebola) spread, specifically from pigs to primates, and may need to be considered in assessing transmission from animals to humans in general," said the paper.

Uganda's health minister said Thursday that a fresh has killed at least two people in the centre of the country, just weeks after an outbreak in western Uganda that claimed at least 17 lives was declared over.

In neighbouring Democratic , an outbreak claimed 26 lives around the northeastern town of Isiro, some 350 kilometres (220 miles) from the Ugandan border, by late October.

Ebola is named after a small river in the , then called Zaire, where it was first recorded 36 years ago.

It is a form of haemorrhagic fever, an African that causes severe fever, muscle pain, weakness, vomiting and diarrhoea.

In some cases, it can trigger organ failure and unstoppable bleeding, killing a previously healthy adult within days.

It is one of the deadliest diseases known, killing two-thirds of the roughly 1,850 people who have been diagnosed with it.

Experts say this extreme virulence is its weak spot. The virus can be contained because it kills its victims faster than it can spread to new ones.

Pigs have previously been identified as carriers in outbreaks of novel flu viruses.

They can harbour avian influenza virus from wild birds or domestic fowl as well as flu virus from humans. The two viral strains then mix in the pig, which can pass on a new strain to farmworkers or slaughterhouse staff.

Explore further: Two dead in new outbreak of Ebola in Uganda (Update)

Related Stories

Two dead in new outbreak of Ebola in Uganda (Update)

November 15, 2012
A fresh outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in central Uganda has killed at least two people, the health minister said Thursday.

Uganda Ebola outbreak 'coming to an end': WHO

September 3, 2012
Uganda's latest outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus appears to be over, the World Health Organisation said Monday, pointing out that no new cases had been confirmed for the past month.

Uganda Ebola outbreak over: government

October 4, 2012
Uganda on Thursday declared an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus that killed 17 people dead to be over, officials said.

Ebola outbreak in DR Congo

August 18, 2012
Nine people have died in an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Health Minister Felix Kabangue said on Saturday.

New Ebola outbreak in Uganda kills 2

November 14, 2012
(AP)—Ugandan officials say a new outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever has killed at least two Ugandans in a district near the capital.

10 people die of suspected Ebola in Congo

August 22, 2012
(AP) — The World Health Organization says an outbreak of suspected Ebola in eastern Congo has infected at least 15 people, 10 of whom died.

Recommended for you

Researchers report new system to study chronic hepatitis B

July 25, 2017
Scientists from Princeton University's Department of Molecular Biology have successfully tested a cell-culture system that will allow researchers to perform laboratory-based studies of long-term hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections. ...

Research examines lung cell turnover as risk factor and target for treatment of influenza pneumonia

July 24, 2017
Influenza is a recurring global health threat that, according to the World Health Organization, is responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths every year, most due to influenza pneumonia, or viral pneumonia. Infection with ...

Scientists propose novel therapy to lessen risk of obesity-linked disease

July 24, 2017
With obesity related illnesses a global pandemic, researchers propose in the Journal of Clinical Investigation using a blood thinner to target molecular drivers of chronic metabolic inflammation in people eating high-fat ...

Raccoon roundworm—a hidden human parasite?

July 24, 2017
The raccoon that topples your trashcan and pillages your garden may leave more than just a mess. More likely than not, it also contaminates your yard with parasites—most notably, raccoon roundworms (Baylisascaris procyonis).

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.