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Health News of Friday, 2 May 2014

Source: Graphic Online

Bat meat safe, but…

Lovers of bat meat may still continue to enjoy their delicacy in spite of the fact that the mammals are said to be major carriers of the Ebola virus epidemic that hit some parts of Africa recently.

However, bat eaters must void picking dead and sick ones and must also thoroughly cook the meat of healthy bats before consumption, the Ashanti Regional Director of Health Services has cautioned.

Dr. Alexis M Nang-Beifubah said though cave bats, which are mostly found in Techiman in the Brong Ahafo Region, are said to be the natural hosts of the virus, a parasite prevalence study conducted by Ghana Wildlife on bats in Ghana had revealed that Ghanaian bats were safe from the virus.

He gave the same advice to lovers of bush meat, and hunters in particular, to avoid collecting dead and sick animals during their hunting games, as some could be carrying the virus that could be dangerous when not properly handled.

He said even though there was no reported Ebola case in Ghana, the Ghana Health Service “is admonishing Ghanaians to be on the alert.”

Addressing the media in Kumasi, Dr. Nang-Beifubah said though the media blew the suspected case of Ebola in the region out of proportion, the directorate was happy because the incident tested the preparedness of the region to handle such a situation.

He stated that due to the peculiar nature of the virus, it could only be confirmed through laboratory tests, but pointed out that health workers were most at risk in contracting the virus as they normally handled the patients who might not have taken the necessary precautionary measures.

According to him, the region has a consignment of protective gears for distribution to health workers in case of an outbreak.

Dr. Nang-Beifubah also indicated that the directorate had put all the health facilities in the region on red alert and had met with the district health directors and educated them on what to do in case of an outbreak. He gave an assurance that the region was prepared to handle any such case.

He said the region had so far chosen two isolation centres: Tafo and Kumasi South hospitals, as the places that would be used to confine patients in case of an outbreak.

The regional director asked Ghanaians to adhere to personal hygiene at all times and to endeavour to wash their hands with water and soap, especially after burial services.

Dr. Nang-Beifubah called for the support of the media in the public education campaign against the spread of the virus.

He said though the Ebola condition was not curable, it could be prevented through the observation of basic hygiene.

He gave some of the preventive measures as avoiding direct contact with fruit bats, chimpanzees, gorillas, monkeys, forest antelopes and porcupines found dead or ill in the rainforest.

“Persons who have died of Ebola must be handled using appropriate protective gear and buried immediately under strict supervision,” he stated.

Ebola is a severe, infectious, often fatal disease, in humans. It is very infectious and can kill in a short time. A total of 161 cases so far have been reported in the sub-region, out of which 112 people have died.

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