The West African Food Staple That Isn't Helping the Ebola Crisis

Smoked monkey is sold at a local market in 2013 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo. Shutterstock

Where food is scarce, creative measures are taken for the sake of survival, and that’s why bush meat — which can consist of anything from monkey to gorilla, bat to rat to deer or the combination of any of these animals — persists as a source of sustenance in African countries vulnerable to the Ebola virus.

The tradition-backed consumption of bush meat continues despite clear connections between the meat and the disease.

Also read: Ebola vs. Idiocy: A Message From the CDC

According to The Washington Post, it doesn’t take much to start an Ebola epidemic among humans when bush meat is in the mix:

And as it has been during past Ebola outbreaks, bush meat is once again suspected to have been the bridge that caused the deadly disease to go from the animal world to the human one. All it takes is a single transmission event from animal to human — handling an uncooked bat with the virus, for example — to create an epidemic. Human-to-human contact then becomes the primary source of infection.

“If you know that the Ebola virus is introduced in one area, it’s probably an extra good time to stop eating bush meat,” said Daniel Bausch, an associate professor of tropical medicine at Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine.

The Post’s report added that the prevalence of bush meat makes for less motivation in some areas to seek other means of procuring safer forms of protein, and fruit bats are considered particularly likely carriers of the disease.

–Posted by Kasia Anderson

Kasia Anderson
Deputy Editor
Kasia Anderson is a deputy editor at Truthdig. After graduating from Swarthmore College in 1997 with a degree in English literature and sociology, she worked as a Web journalist in San Francisco until 2000,…
Kasia Anderson

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