UN Warns Wildlife Species Could Contract Ebola Virus In West Africa

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The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO) is warning rural communities in West Africa about the risk of contracting the Ebola virus from eating certain wildlife species like fruit bats.

In a statement released by the Rome-based agency on Monday, FAO Chief Veterinary Officer, Juan Lubroth said they should avoid hunting animals that are sick and behaving strangely.

“We are not suggesting that people stop hunting altogether, which isn’t realistic,” said Mr Lubroth.

“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,” he added.

Authorities are struggling to control the Ebola epidemic in West African countries which has now become the world’s deadliest recorded outbreak of the virus.

UN has emphasized that authorities should sensitize the 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.

This comes as the Uganda government intensifies the screening of people travelling on the Uganda and Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) following reports of suspected Ebola cases.

The Ministry of Health has alerted all hospitals at the border points to report any suspected cases of Ebola fever so as to control and prevent the spread of the virus to Uganda.

The government received reports of suspected cases in Aruu and other parts of Northeastern Congo. “We learnt Kinshasa was testing the samples,” said Dr Asuman Lukwago, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health.

“If Ebola is confirmed in Congo, we can send our team to work with the Congolese so that the disease is controlled from there,” he added.

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.

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