Minimum Of 128,000 Bats Sold Annually In Ghana

An estimated 128,000 straw-coloured fruit bats, known as Eidolon Helvum, valued at GH˘256,000, are sold annually in Ghana as bush meat, Dr Joseph Somuah Akuamoah, Executive Member of Good Life Ghana, has said. He said the bats were sold in just 400-kilometre radius, an indication of the role bush meat, which is a source of Ebola Viral Disease (EVD) infection, could play in the spread of the disease in case of an outbreak in the country. He has therefore re-echoed calls for a reduction in bush meat consumption, with a stern caution to hunters against dead animals they find during hunting since the game might have died of EVD due to infection from one of the affected countries. Dr Akuamoah, who is also the Medical Director of St. Joe’s Specialist Hospital at Kasoa, made these known to the GNA as part of awareness creation by Good Life Ghana, a non-governmental organisation. The Ebola Virus is a highly infectious virus that causes Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF) and affects multiple organ systems in the body, often accompanied by bleeding. The disease kills up to 50 to 90% of the people who get infected. Several cases have been reported in Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria resulting in the death of an increasing number of people. Some suspected cases reported in Ghana were tested and proved negative. Dr Akuamoah said aside hunters, health workers, family members and mourners who come in close contact with infected people were also at risk and there was therefore the need to increase education on the disease for effective management in case of an outbreak. He said general symptoms of the disease include fatigue, general weakness, joints and muscle pains, diarrhoea, headache, vomiting, sore throat, similar to other diseases like malaria. He appealed to the public to quickly report to health authorities any suspected person with a history of recent travel to or from the affected countries for prompt screening. Dr Akuamoah said that the disease has no specific treatment and therefore advised the public to minimise shaking of hands and body contacts, and rather wash hands regularly with soap and clean water.