Ebola and food… Everything you should know!

Ebola and food… Everything you should know!
  • Dr. Taylor Wallace
  • October 21, 2014

Ebola is a rare deadly disease that can kill up to 90% of individuals who are infected, depending on the strain.  As the Ebola virus spreads through the body, it damages the immune system and organs, and eventually leads to uncontrollable bleeding. Ebola viruses are known to cause epidemics of disease among wild animals such as monkeys, bats and small rodents. The initial source of past Ebola outbreaks in Africa was human contact with wild animals through hunting, butchering and preparing meat from infected wild animals (“bush meat”), with subsequent transmission from human to human.

All of the cases of Ebola in the U.S. to date are a result of direct human-to-human contact. If food products are properly prepared and cooked, humans cannot become infected, since the Ebola virus is inactivated through cooking. It is unlikely (but possible) that Ebola can be transmitted through preparing or sharing foods and beverages since salivary enzymes are unfavorable for persistence of Ebola and have been thought to also inactivate the virus. Those who care for a sick person (e.g. doctors, nurses and other health professionals) or bury someone who has died from the disease are the most likely individuals to contract the virus.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that individuals “not touch bats and nonhuman primates or their blood and fluids and do not touch or eat raw meat prepared from these animals” to prevent food-borne contraction of the virus. Washing hands frequently and/or use of an alcohol-based hand sanitizer can decrease your risk of contracting Ebola if you are in an area affected by the outbreak.

The bottom line is that unless your illegally ordering African “bush meat” from over-seas you are extremely unlikely to contract the virus via food in the western world.

Categories: Food Safety
Tags: bush meat, ebola, virus

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