Bat soup blamed as deadly Ebola virus spreads

(CBS) - An outbreak of the Ebola virus has claimed at least 63 lives in the African nation of Guinea.

To combat the spread of this deadly disease, Guinean officials have taken the unusual step of banning the consumption of bat soup, grilled bat and other local delicacies.

"We discovered the vector [infectious] agent of the Ebola virus is the bat," Remy Lamah, the country's health minister, told Bloomberg News. "We sent messages everywhere to announce the ban. People must even avoid consumption of rats and monkeys. They are very dangerous animals." [5 Things You Should Know About Ebola]

What Is Ebola?

Ebola is a hemorrhagic virus that spreads through bodily fluids and can cause high fever, diarrhea, vomiting and internal and external bleeding. There is no vaccine or cure, and Ebola is fatal up to 90 percent of the time, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Medical experts believe that animals are the natural hosts for the Ebola virus, which has in the past been transmitted to humans via chimpanzees, gorillas and monkeys. Though bats and other mammals can harbor the virus, they may not show any symptoms of the disease.

Bats can be prepared for human consumption a number of ways, according to the BBC. Bats are often grilled over an open flame or boiled in a spicy soup with peppers and other ingredients.

In Guinea, located in West Africa on the Atlantic Ocean, the Toma, Kissi and Guerze ethnic groups eat bats regularly.

Bats host diseases

Though many animals can spread disease, bats have come under increased scientific scrutiny in recent years for their uncanny ability to host "zoonotic" viruses, that is, viruses that readily make the jump from one species to another.

"There seems to be something different about bats in terms of being able to host zoonotic infections," David Hayman, a wildlife epidemiologist at Colorado State University, told LiveScience in a 2013 interview.

The flying mammals are reservoirs for more than 60 viruses that can infect humans, and host more viruses per species than even rodents.

In addition to the Ebola virus, rabies, histoplasmosis, SARS, Nipah (which causes deadly brain fevers), Hendra (a lethal respiratory disease), Marburg, Lyssaviruses and other diseases can be spread by bats, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


Join the Conversation!

To comment, the following rules must be followed:

  • No Obscenity, Profanity, Vulgarity, Racism or Violent Descriptions
  • No Negative Community Comparisons
  • No Fighting, Name-calling, or Personal Attacks
  • Multiple Accounts are Not Allowed
  • Stay on Story Topic

Comments may be monitored for inappropriate content, but the station is under no legal obligation to do so.
If you believe a comment violates the above rules, please use the Flagging Tool to alert a Moderator.
Flagging does not guarantee removal.

Multiple violations may result in account suspension.
Decisions to suspend or unsuspend accounts are made by Station Moderators.
Links require admin approval before posting.
Questions may be sent to webmaster@wvlt-tv.com. Please provide detailed information.

powered by Disqus

WVLT VOLUNTEER TV

6450 Papermill Drive Knoxville, TN 37919 Phone - (865) 450-8888; Fax - (865) 450-8869
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2014 WVLT-TV Inc. - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 252832281 - local8now.com/a?a=252832281