April 11 - Bushmeat is still on sale in Ghana despite worries that fruit bats and other bushmeat may be behind the spread of an Ebola outbreak in nearby Liberia and Guinea which has claimed around a hundred lives. Ciara Sutton reports.
The smell of spicy stews made from goat meat and fish fills the air at this restaurant in Ghana. But it's a much less risky selection on offer - the usual forest meat, including bat - is off the menu. Around 100 people in neighboring Guinea and Liberia have died from Ebola in recent weeks. While scientists are yet to pin down the main host of the outbreak, some species of fruit bats are suspected. Comfort Addo a bush meat trader, says that's keeping customers away. (SOUNDBITE) (Twi) COMFORT ADDO, BUSH MEAT SELLER SAYING: "The meat is there but the customers don't want to buy because they are afraid to consume bush meat nowadays, they don't buy from us any more, since cases of the Ebola virus was made known saying the meat we are selling is contaminated. It has affected the business." There have been no confirmed cases of the disease in Ghana, but authorities are on high alert. Head of Disease Surveillance, Dr. Badu Sarkodie. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. BADU SARKODIE, HEAD OF DISEASE SURVEILLANCE DEPARTMENT OF THE GHANA HEALTH SERVICE SAYING: "We are equally worried as any of the neighbouring countries of Guinea, because all the risk factors that are prevalent in Guinea, which has led to this outbreak are also here with us in Ghana. We have the bats here, the African fruit-eating bats is not common but there are some areas where these bats have been identified in the country." Guinea has banned the consumption of bats since the outbreak. And that's worrying some fans of the meat in Ghana. (SOUNDBITE) (Twi) KOFI OTOO, ACCRA RESIDENT, SAYING: "If the government says it's going to ban the consumption of bush meat in the country, it will be a problem because it forms part of our Ghanaian delicacies. Honestly speaking banning it will be a big blow for me." Some scientific evidence suggests the risk of Ebola may only be from infected animals and fresh carcasses. But medical charity, Medecins Sans Frontieres, has warned of the danger of an unprecedented epidemic in an impoverished region with weak health services.