EFSA assesses risk of Ebola transmission through bushmeat

| November 4, 2014

CDC/ Frederick A. Murphy

CDC/ Frederick A. Murphy

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has carried out an assessment of the risk of the Ebola virus transmission through bushmeat illegally imported into Europe from Western and Central Africa.

The Ebola virus has been found in certain native forest animals in Africa, including fruit bats, great apes and duiker deer, which are killed and eaten as bushmeat by local people. Although it is not permitted to import bushmeat into the EU, there have been a number of seizures of illegal imports.

The EFSA scientists concluded that the risk of transmission of Ebola from bushmeat is low in Europe because the highest risk of transmission from animals is during hunting and butchering, which is likely to be confined to Africa. Furthermore, consumption of illegal bushmeat in Europe is considered to be small.

Although there are gaps in knowledge about Ebola, the experts say that short-term survival of the virus is more likely in fresh or frozen meat than in dried or smoked meat. They also state that thorough cooking (at 100oC) kills the virus in food. They recommend that the best way to prevent transmission of Ebola through bushmeat in Europe is to prevent all illegal imports.

The EFSA risk assessment can be found in full here.

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