Recently, the Philippines has banned the butchering and eating of dead horses due to the reported deaths of people who contracted Nipah virus in two villages in the southern Philippines in April, though the ban has only recently been reported to the public. Originally, Manila’s health department did not formally announce the suspected outbreak of Nipah Virus-related cases when it occurred in Sultan Kudarat. It has since been found that the horses were initially contaminated by fruit bats that belong to the family Pteropodidae, endemic in one of the two affected villages and a known natural reservoir of Nipah Virus.
Along with the horses, human residents --as well as local cats and dogs, which also died after eating contaminated horse meat-- have also been infected with Nipah virus in Tinalon and Midtungkok villages. This has been reported by a paper published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, written by a team of 17 authors, led by Paola Katrina Ching, a hospital staff nurse at Dr Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, and a second-year fellow in the Philippine Field Epidemiology Training Programme of the health department’s National Epidemiology Centre.According to the report, the outbreak began with the reported deaths of humans due to the disease in two villages in April. Early reports say the victims experienced vomiting, stomach pain, and diarrhea after eating horse meat in Barangay Tinalon on Wednesday. Municipal health officer Maricris Idio said more victims were rushed to the municipal hospital, but they have to transfer those in serious condition to the provincial hospital. Of the 17 cases so far reported, 82% have died after developing acute encephalitis syndrome. Others have experienced residual severe cognitive impairment, motor weakness, and ataxia.
By Kasiemobi Udo-okoye