Photo credit: Alexandra Mannerings via the BBC
The current epidemic of Ebola has been traced back to a two-year-old from the village of Gueckedou in south-eastern Guinea.
The toddler died on December 6th 2013. The child had not been bitten by an animal or bat but had consumed bushmeat during the time before they became ill.
Bushmeat is hunted and eaten as a matter of course in that area of Guinea and the child’s family have said they regularly hunted two species of bat that scientists know carry the Ebola virus. Bats show no sign of illness, but via the fruit they touch, and their droppings, they can, and do infect other animals that are also hunted and eaten. Cooking the meat thoroughly kills Ebola, but butchering and preparing the meat is highly risky business and it’s at this point most infections linked to bushmeat occur.
West Africa has very little livestock, and for this reason bushmeat is eaten by most families on a regular basis. Very few Ebola infections are caused by bushmeat. Ghana is a good example that backs this up. Currently, the country is unaffected by the Ebola epidemic but fruit bats, one of the main reservoirs for Ebola, are widely hunted and eaten there.
The spread of Ebola occurs primarily by human to human transmission, and as Child Zero proves, it only takes one infection to trigger a human catastrophe such as we are seeing now in West Africa.
There have been calls to ban the hunting and consumption of bushmeat. Experts caution against this fearing that it could drive the practice underground, making it less likely that victims of Ebola and their families would come forward in case they are punished for breaking the law.
Prof Melissa Leach, an anthropologist at the University of Sussex spoke to the BBC, she said:
“It’s not a disease spread by eating bushmeat. As far as we know it originated in one spillover event from one bat to a child in Guinea.
Subsequent to that it’s been a human-to-human disease. People are more vulnerable to Ebola by interacting with people than by eating bats.”
She says negative coverage of bushmeat “has deterred people from understanding the real risk of infection”.
While the debate over the causes of the epidemic continues, stopping the spread of Ebola is proving problematic. The world Health Organization has admitted it made the mistake of not stepping in soon enough when the outbreak first occurred.
“Nearly everyone involved in the outbreak response failed to see some fairly plain writing on the wall,” WHO said in the document. “A perfect storm was brewing, ready to burst open in full force.” (source)
Well that storm has arrived. The official body count continues to rise, heading rapidly towards five thousand. The unofficial count is likely to be far higher. We are heading towards a tipping point. We have had a taste of Ebola in the west, isolated cases that seem, for now at least, to have been contained. With no travel bans in place, and with visa’s still being issued for travel to the United States, this containment will not continue.
The United States and other western nations offer the type of healthcare that can only be dreamed about in West Africa. Anyone who has the means to get out is going to do so, knowing that they have Ebola, or are likely to have Ebola, will not be enough to stop many people leaving. Taking someones temperature and asking a few questions on arrival isn’t enough to contain the disease.
If Ebola continues unabated it looks very much like the United Nations will get their greatest wish…population reduction on a grand scale.
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Contributed by Chris Carrington of The Daily Sheeple.
Chris Carrington is a writer, researcher and lecturer with a background in science, technology and environmental studies. Chris is an editor for The Daily Sheeple. Wake the flock up!