MOSCOW, August 7 (RIA Novosti) – Despite repeated warnings from doctors and experts, people in West Africa continue to hunt a variety of animals, including fruit bats, monkeys, and rats that have caused the outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, the Washington Post reports.
“If you know that the Ebola virus is introduced in one area, it’s probably an extra good time to stop eating bush meat,” Daniel Bausch, an associate professor of tropical medicine at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, told the Washington Post.
Cooked and heavily smoked bush meat does not pose any danger. However, those who touch, skin and butcher infected dead animals are at risk of contracting Ebola.
Locals have to be constantly warned that touching dead animals, let alone eating their raw meat is dangerous. “Communities need clear advice on the need not to touch dead animals or to sell or eat the meat of any animal that they find already dead,” said Juan Lubroth, Chief Veterinary Officer of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), as quoted by FAO on July 21. “They should also avoid hunting animals that are sick or behaving strangely, as this is another red flag,” he added.
Despite international efforts to raise awareness among the local population, villagers are likely to continue to eat bush meat claiming it is part of their tradition, which is extremely hard to eradicate. "Banning bush meat means a new way of life, which is unrealistic," Sâa Fela Léno from Guéckédou, located in Guinea not far from the borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone, told the Guardian.
The death toll from the latest Ebola outbreak in West Africa has risen to 932 after 45 new deaths were reported from Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on August 6.
The new outbreak of the hemorrhagic fever, the deadliest to date, was first registered in Guinea in February and soon spilled over into Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria.
The virus is transmitted through direct contact with the blood, body fluids or tissue of infected animals or people. Symptoms of the disease include a sudden onset of fever, weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat followed by vomiting, diarrhea, rash, kidney and liver problems, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. There is currently no licensed vaccine for the disease that has a fatality rate of nearly 90 percent.