All recent Ebola virus outbreaks in humans in forests between
This research proves that hunting and consumption of great apes represent a serious health risk for people in
The paper provides definitive proof for the assumption that Ebola moves from wildlife populations to humans through the consumption or handling of carcasses or bushmeat. Specifically, the researchers found that Ebola infections in wild animals such as gorillas, chimpanzees, and occasionally duikers (a diminutive antelope species), move across the human-wildlife divide through hunters taking either sick animals or carcasses for meat. Hunters can then spread the disease to families and hospital workers, creating the conditions for an epidemic in the process.
Between August 2001 and June 2003, researchers noted that wildlife outbreaks occurred prior to five human outbreaks in the same relative locations. During this same period, 98 animal carcasses were discovered in the region straddling northeast
To prevent future outbreaks from becoming health crises, health officials and wildlife researchers must continue to work together in monitoring the regions wildlife for signs of Ebola. Shortly after August 2001, participating agencies founded the Animal Mortality Monitoring Network in collaboration with Gabonese and Congolese Ministries of Forestry and Environment to predict and prevent outbreaks. On two occasions since then, the network alerted health authorities about potential human outbreaks weeks before they occurred.
The signs of potential outbreaks often occur in remote areas, where roads are barely usable and communications limited, added Karesh. Conservation organizations such as WCS are therefore critical to the early detection of the conditions that can lead to deadly health emergencies.
Source: Wildlife Conservation Society