Bat-eating banned to curb Ebola virus
Guinea has banned the sale and consumption of bats to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, its health minister has said.
Bats, a local delicacy, appeared to be the “main agents” for the Ebola virus disease outbreak in the south, Rene Lamah said. 62 people have now been killed by the virus in Guinea, with suspected cases reported in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Ebola virus is spread by close contact. There is no known cure or vaccine. It kills between 25 percent and 90 percent of victims, depending on the strain of the virus, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Symptoms include internal and external bleeding, diarrhoea and vomiting.
It is the 1st time Ebola has struck Guinea, with recent outbreaks thousands of miles away, in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Mr Lamah announced the ban on the sale and consumption of bats during a tour of Forest Region, the epicentre of the epidemic, reports the BBC’s Alhassan Sillah from the capital, Conakry.
People who eat the animals often boil them into a sort of spicy pepper soup, our correspondent says. The soup is sold in village stores where people gather to drink alcohol. Other ways of preparing the bats to eat include drying them over a fire. Certain species of bat found in West and Central Africa are thought to be the natural reservoir of Ebola viruses, although they do not show any symptoms. Health officials reported one more death on Tuesday [25 Mar 2014], bringing the number of people killed by Ebola to 62, our correspondent adds.
The charity Medecins Sans Frontieres has set up two quarantine sites in southern Guinea to try to contain the outbreak, the Associated Press news agency reports. Health authorities are receiving help from the WHO while messages are being broadcast on national television to reassure people.