Guinea Ebola outbreak: Bat-eating Banned to Curb Virus

batGuinea has banned the sale and consumption of bats to prevent the spread of the deadly Ebola virus, its health minister has said.

Bats, a local delicacy, appeared to be the "main agents" for the Ebola outbreak in the south, Rene Lamah said.

Sixty-two people have now been killed by the virus in Guinea, with suspected cases reported in neighbouring Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Ebola is spread by close contact. There is no known cure or vaccine.

It kills between 25% and 90% of victims, depending on the strain of the virus, according to the World Health Organization.

This is the first time such a national health threat has come to our borders”

Brima Kargbo Sierra Leone health official

Symptoms include internal and external bleeding, diarrhoea and vomiting.

It is the first time Ebola has struck Guinea, with recent outbreaks thousands of miles away, in Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mr Lamah announced the ban on the sale and consumption of bats during a tour of Forest Region, the epicentre of the epidemic, reports the BBC's Alhassan Sillah from the capital, Conakry.

People who eat the animals often boil them into a sort of spicy pepper soup, our correspondent says. The soup is sold in village stores where people gather to drink alcohol.

Other ways of preparing the bats to eat include drying them over a fire

Certain species of bat found in West and Central Africa are thought to be the natural reservoir of Ebola, although they do not show any symptoms.

Health officials reported one more death on Tuesday, bringing the number of people killed by Ebola to 62, our correspondent adds.

The medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres said it had set up two quarantine sites in southern Guinea to try to contain the outbreak, the Associated Press news agency reports.

Sierra Leone's health ministry said it was investigating two suspected cases of Ebola, the AFP news agency reports.

"We still do not have any confirmed cases of Ebola in the country," its chief medical officer Brima Kargbo is quoted as saying.

"What we do have are suspected cases, which our health teams are investigating and taking blood samples from people who had come in contact with those suspected to have the virus," he added.

Mr Kargbo said the one suspected case involved a 14-year-old boy who was thought to have died two weeks ago in Guinea and then brought to his village on the Sierra Leonean side of the border in the eastern district of Kono.

The other case was in the northern border district Kambia, he added, without giving further details.

"This is the first time such a national health threat has come to our borders. In any case, we are prepared and on the alert in readiness in case the disease is diagnosed in Sierra Leone," Mr Kargbo was quoted as saying by AFPs.

Five people are reported to have died in Liberia after crossing from southern Guinea for treatment, Liberia's Health Minister Walter Gwenigale told journalists on Monday.

However, it is not clear whether they had Ebola.

Outbreaks of Ebola occur primarily in remote villages in Central and West Africa, near tropical rainforests, the World Health Organization says.

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Critique Echo Newspaper is a major source of news and objective analyses about governance, democracy and human-right. Edited and published in Kenema city, eastern Sierra Leone, the outlet is generally referred to as a level plying ground for the youths, women and children.

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