World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


UN agency warns of fruit bat risk in African Ebola epidemic

UN agency warns of fruit bat risk in West African Ebola epidemic

21 July 2014

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is urging increased efforts to improve awareness among rural communities in West Africa about the risks of contracting the Ebola virus from eating certain wildlife species, including fruit bats.

“We are not suggesting that people stop hunting altogether, which isn’t realistic,” said FAO Chief Veterinary Officer Juan Lubroth in a statement released by the Rome-based agency today.

“But 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. They should also avoid hunting animals that are sick or behaving strangely, as this is another red flag.”

The West African epidemic is thought to have started when the virus crossed over from infected wildlife into the human population and subsequently began spreading between people. Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone are currently struggling to contain what has become the world’s deadliest recorded outbreak of the virus.

The Ebola virus is transmitted by direct contact with the blood and body of infected people and animals. And fruit bats – usually eaten dried or in a spicy soup – are thought to be the most likely reservoir species for the virus. They can carry Ebola without developing clinical signs and should be avoided altogether, according to FAO.

“The virus is killed when meat is cooked at a high temperature or heavily smoked, but anyone who handles, skins or butchers an infected wild animal is at risk of contracting the virus,” Mr. Lubroth warned.

While several governments have attempted to outlaw the sale and consumption of bushmeat, bans have proved impossible to enforce as they are usually met with suspicion from rural communities. There are growing concerns about the effect the outbreak may have on food security. Farmers are becoming increasingly afraid to work in their fields, while some food markets have closed.

“There is a lot of mistrust to the extent that people are hiding patients rather than getting medical help, and it’s very difficult to control the disease in the midst of many myths and rumours,” said Katinka de Balogh, FAO veterinary public health officer.

“It is critical for rural communities to understand the risks, both of human-to-human transmission and from wildlife, so that they are in a position to make informed decisions themselves.”

FAO is working with governments to set up wildlife surveillance systems that support early detection, and rural radio stations to improve information about the virus on a community level. The agency is also partnering with the UN World Health Organization (WHO) country offices in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to get the word out and help find healthier and more sustainable livestock production options.

West Africa’s first human cases of Ebola virus were suspected to have occurred in December 2013. According to WHO, more than 600 people have died from the disease in the region thus far. Lethal in up to 90 per cent of cases, Ebola virus causes multiple organ failure and, in some cases, severe haemorrhaging. There is currently no vaccine for the disease.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 

Ban Condemns Killing Of Former Lesotho Military Commander

United Nations Secretary-General today condemned the killing of Lt. Gen. Maaparankoe Mahao, former Commander of the Lesotho Defence Force, on 25 June, near Maseru. More>>

Ban Welcomes US Supreme Court Ruling On Same-Sex Marriage

Ban welcomes US Supreme Court ruling guaranteeing right to same-sex marriage Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) pride march. Photo: OHCHR/Joseph Smida More>>

UN Agency Welcomes EU Measures On Refugee Arrivals

Afghan refugees in front of the abandoned hotel Captain Elias on Kos Island, Greece, where hundreds of refugees and migrants are waiting for their registration. Photo: UNHCR/J. Akkash More>>

Increase In Voluntary Blood Donors Can Save Millions Of Lives

Increase in voluntary blood donors can save millions of lives, UN health agency says on World Day More>>

Kenya: Funding Shortage Means Food Cut To 500,000 Refugees

Funding shortage forces UN agency to temporarily cut food aid to 500,000 refugees in Kenya More>>

UN Launches Education Appeal In Fight Against Child Labour

12 June 2015 – The United Nations has announced it is marking the 2015 edition of the World Day Against Child Labour with a call for the international community to invest in quality education as a key step in the fight against child employment ... More>>

Pope Francis & UN Agency On Sustainability Of Agriculture

Pope Francis (centre) with delegates to the 39th FAO Conference during a special audience at the Vatican. Photo: FAO More>>

South Sudan: Call For De-Escalation Of In-Country Conflict

Women and children have suffered devastating attacks in South Sudan’s Unity State. Photo: UNICEF/South Sudan/Sebastian Rich More>>

Burundi: Emergency Support To Refugees Fleeing Burundi Crisis

Burundians fleeing pre-election violence rest on the shores of Lake Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of Congo after a gruelling 22-hour boat journey. More than 100,000 Burundians have fled over the past month, arriving in Tanzania, Rwanda and ... More>>

Afghanistan: Commitment To Advancing Women's Rights

While the outgoing senior United Nations rights official in Afghanistan said she expected the human rights advances made “will be sustained, will not be rolled back, and will not be sacrificed,” she lamented the high level of violence against ... More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news