Bushmeat No Longer Poses Risk Of Ebola Infection, Says Tomori
PRESIDENT of the Nigerian Academy of Science (NAS), Prof. Oyewale Tomori has reiterated that eating bushmeat poses no Ebola infection risk.
Tomori observed that bush animals and their meat were suspected to be carriers of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) disease in wake of the outbreak in Nigeria. But from the evidence on ground, the claim proved to be “half knowledge.”
Reacting to persistent concern that bushmeat delicacies may still be risky to the current Ebola-free status, the scientist said even if the virus is residue in a suspected animal, mere cooking of the meat kills the virus.
Bushmeat, a popular delicacy especially in the country’s hinterland, is believed to be the origin of the current Ebola outbreak in West Africa. And since the outbreak of Ebola in Nigeria last July, it has become a no-no for a lot of Nigerians.
Bushmeat or wild animal meat covers any animal that is killed for consumption including antelopes, chimpanzees, fruit bats and rats. It can even include porcupines and snakes.
Bushmeats became suspect because the first victim’s family of Ebola in Guinea hunted bats (popular bushmeat in the area), which allegedly carried the virus.
Tomori told The Guardian that the only danger is that people might be exposed to the raw blood and discharges from infected fresh animal.
According to him, “Possible infection is not from those who eat the meat because it is already cooked. That is, if there is a risk in the meat at all; I don’t mean that there is. The only way to be infected is that if you kill the animal that has the virus, either in the blood or in other things, and in the process of skinning the animal, you cut yourself, then there will be infection.
“It is just like it is with people who carry out burial rite like washing bodies of infected persons. Eating doesn’t really affect you. So all these talk about bush meat and Ebola is just half-knowledge,” he said.
The renowned virologist, Tomori, added nobody still knows if those bush animals, including bats, really have Ebola virus.
According to him, only a few species of bats were suspected to be carriers of the deadly disease, and local researches would help validate or refute such claims.
“There are species (of bat) whose some evidences have found in them anti-bodies to Ebola. The virus infects them, but it doesn’t affect them but they develop anti-bodies. I’m not too sure they are the species we have around here.
“Again, those are the types of studies we need to do locally and in our different countries to find out which species of bat is here contained. We don’t know,” he said.
Tomori, however, said it was unfortunate that there is no Ebola research currently ongoing in the country because the needed facilities are still not available.