Skip to comments.INTERVIEW-Ebola could follow bushmeat trade routes to West
Posted on 06/19/2006 4:43:25 AM PDT by Flavius
ANTANANARIVO, June 19 (Reuters) - The lethal Ebola virus could erupt in Paris or London because of the illicit trade in African wild meat which is following immigrant communities there, a leading expert said on Monday.
Ebola and the deadly Marburg virus also infect wild primates such as apes and some studies suggest humans contract the disease while handling infected carcasses. The ultimate source is a mystery but evidence points to bats.
"There is bushmeat going into places like Paris and London, being smuggled in for the immigrant market. So an Ebola outbreak could happen there," said Dr. Robert Swanepoel of South Africa's National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
Swanepoel was speaking in Madagascar at an African conservation conference.
Ebola and Marburg are associated with central and west Africa but that may change.
"Los Angeles is as close to Ebola as Kinshasa with air travel," Swanepoel said.
In the three decades since Ebola emerged and the four since Marburg was discovered, they have killed 2,500 people -- which may look insignificant compared to malaria or AIDS.
"People ask why the fuss? ... For one thing, Ebola outbreaks are becoming more frequent and you have to ask why," said Swanepoel. The first recorded outbreaks were in the former Zaire and Sudan in 1976.
It seemed to vanish after 1979 but re-emerged in the mid-1990s in Ivory Coast and Gabon, with several outbreaks since in various countries. Marburg is also occurring more often.
"We think the increasing frequency is because of a population explosion and deforestation," said Swanepoel.
Africa's bushmeat trade is now run on an industrial scale, increasing the chances of spread.
The plague which killed a third of Europe's population in the mid-14th century also followed trade routes. And like that plague, Ebola and Marburg cause panic.
"They spark panic and people flee. And unlike AIDS, they kill medical staff and paralyse medical services," said Swanepoel.
Ebola victims bleed internally and externally from any opening in the body. Fatality rates are 80 percent or more.
It's Bush(meat)'s fault.
Bushmeat's fault (sorry, I couldn't resist).
More seriously, there si some possibility bats act as a reservoir, and there has been unofficial speculation that mosquitoes act as a vector as well.
Somehow it does not surprise me that bushmeat would be cropping up in other countries where the immigrants are. Hopefully, though, cheaper, more conventional meat will prevail, and sheer economics will stop this from happening.
This is just like "AIDS is a threat to heterosexual America". Scare tactics.
What is this Bushmeat, wild monkey brains?
There must be a lot of suicidal folks in London and Paris.
It's monkeys caught in the wild.It's about as close as most Africans come to having a piece of steak at the Capital Grille.
Oh, I SOOOOO want a monkeyburger now.
Permit me to rephrase my statement for the hope-less.
Economics does wonders with dietary choices.
Some/all just might develop a taste for something cheaper than imported unprocessed monkey meat.
There. All better.
Isn't Ebola so good at killing, it doesn't spread far and wide because it kills everyone it infects so fast? Someone told me that the disease "burns itself out" rather quickly. Of course if it got into an urban center it would be interesting to say the least.
Were such an outbreak to really get a foothold in a major urban area, I don't think "interesting" is exactly the word I'd use to describe it.
Even more frightening is the prospect of air travel spreading the outbreak to other countries.
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