SOURCE OF CURRENT EBOLA EPIDEMIC IDENTIFIED: Bat-Eating Family in Guinea Village

Despite warnings from health officials, villagers in West Africa continue to purchase and eat bats, rodents and bush meat.
bush meat
Bush meat in Nigeria. (World Biking)

The current Ebola epidemic was traced back to a bat-eating family in the village of Gueckedou in south-eastern Guinea.
The BBC reported:

Bushmeat is believed to be the origin of the current Ebola outbreak. The first victim’s family hunted bats, which carry the virus. Could the practice of eating bushmeat, which is popular across Africa, be responsible for the current crisis?

The origin has been traced to a two-year-old child from the village of Gueckedou in south-eastern Guinea, an area where batmeat is frequently hunted and eaten.

The infant, dubbed Child Zero, died on 6 December 2013. The child’s family stated they had hunted two species of bat which carry the Ebola virus.

Bushmeat or wild animal meat covers any animal that is killed for consumption, principally chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats and monkeys. It can even include porcupines, rats and snakes.

In some remote areas it is a necessary source of food – in others it has become a delicacy.

In Africa’s Congo Basin, people eat an estimated five million tonnes of bushmeat per year, according to the Centre of International Forestry Research.

Doctors Without Borders has more on the bat-eating family.

The epidemic seems to have originated in a village near Guéckédou in Guinea, from where the disease then spread out. It is a place where people do a significant amount of bat hunting. Just as many other families living in that area, the first family in the village to be infected with the disease admitted to having hunted two species of bat. These were Hypsignatus monstrosus and Epomops franqueti, which both carry the Ebola virus.

Bat colonies migrate across vast distances and we think that they first pass the virus amongst themselves, thereby passing it from the east to the west of Africa. The Ebola virus is then introduced into the population if they come into contact with infected animals.

The black market demand for monkey meat could see Ebola spread in the UK and Europe.

Scientists report that Ebola may be present in more animals than previously thought. So far, it has been detected in chimpanzees, gorillas, fruit bats, monkeys, antelopes, porcupines, rodents, dogs, pigs and humans.

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