The likely culprit for the deadly outbreak of Ebola in West Africa has been identified, and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has put out a warning to those in the affected region: stay away from fruit bats.
Fruit bats are a common meat in African stews or are dried like jerky.
Fruit bats are among the most notorious for spreading disease, according to the FAO. The U.N. organization said West Africa’s current epidemic, which has so far killed at least 604 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, was probably first transferred from an infected animal, and then began spreading between people. Ebola is transferred by direct contact with the blood or body of infected people or animals.
Unlike other Ebola-infected animals, fruit bats show no sign of infection and therefore should be completely avoid.
But in a starving region of the world, getting the word out to West Africans to avoid a common source of food may prove difficult for the FAO. As Redditor DangerousPuhson points out:
Did they warn everyone in person? Because I think if you drew a venn diagram of people who eat dried fruit bats off the ground and people who have television/internet access, you’ll find there’s probably not a great deal of overlap there.