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CONGO: Consumers shun bush-meat for fear of Ebola

BRAZZAVILLE, 6 March 2003 (IRIN) - Bush-meat vendors in Ouesso, the largest town in the Republic of Congo's region of Sangha, have reported a sharp drop in sales due to consumers having been frightened by the Ebola virus ravaging a nearby area, a market administrator told IRIN.

This dramatic situation had created new consumer patterns with people switching to fish, beef or chicken, Odi-Aya, a teacher in Ouesso, told IRIN on Tuesday.

Outbreaks of Ebola have been associated with people eating primates infected with the virus. An infected person will suffer from high fever, diarrhoea, blood loss, and intense fatigue. The virus is transmitted through direct contact with the body fluids of infected persons or of primates. There is no cure, and prevention, prompt detection, as well as isolation of suspected cases, are considered the best way of halting its spread.

The government has sent a medical team to the Cuvette-Ouest Region to investigate the disease. So far, the disease has been confined to this region, especially in its districts of Mbomo and Kelle.

Up until Wednesday, 89 of the 110 people registered with Ebola in Cuvette-Ouest had died, the World Health Organisation reported.

There had been an equally devastating impact on primates, Pierre Agnangoye, the coordinator of project to protect the forest ecosystems of Central Africa, said. "Of the 800 gorillas alive in the Odzala Pack and the Lossi Sanctuary, just 200 are left," he noted.

The International Federation of the Red Cross says the ROC Red Cross Society will need US $130,000 to help it fight the outbreak. The local Red Cross has already trained 62 volunteers to perform this task.

During a meeting with President Denis Sassou-Nguesso on 26 February, the newly arrived US ambassador to the ROC, Robin Renee Sanders, offered to send a US medical team to help fight the disease.

Theme (s): Health & Nutrition,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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