The Ebola Virus Disease blitzkrieg that had swept through Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone reached Nigeria 4 weeks ago and is poised to be one of the most menacing public health challenges we have seen in this country in recent times.
It is well known that the main route of transmission and spread of the Ebola Virus Disease is human to human contact particularly direct contact with blood, bodily fluids, and tissues of infected people or corpse of infected persons.
However eating food, in the form of animals particularly wild animals also known as bush meat that are infected can also result in EVD infection. As a matter of fact the risk of human infection from infected animals isn’t just limited to the consumption of infected animals but the risk also lies in preparation of the animal for food i.e butchering, cutting, washing etc humans can also become infected from blood and fluids from infected bushmeat.
Some of our people may argue that bushmeat is not the first choice delicacy in this country in terms of overall popularity, nevertheless the fact that some folks do love to eat bushmeat highlights that food safety practices have a role to play in preventing the spread of this disease.
The WHO (World Health Organization) information note on Ebola and Food Safety released on 24th of August points out the role of food safety in the fight against ebola by stating that if food products are properly prepared and cooked, humans cannot become infected by consuming them: the Ebola virus is inactivated through cooking.
The information note mentioned that basic hygiene measures can prevent infection in people in direct contact with infected animals or with raw meat and by-products. Such measures include regular hand washing and changing of clothes and boots before and after touching these animals and their products. However, sick and diseased animal should never be consumed.
Propagating food hygiene, personal hygiene, and food safety behaviors amongst the populace thus will give additional help in prevent the spread of EVD in Nigeria.