It turns out that Ebola is yet another epidemic disease, along with influenza, and resistant bacteria, which we get by consuming and/or producing meat. In fact, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that 75 percent of all new and emerging infectious diseases in humans come from animal origins.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the Ebola virus is transmitted to humans from wild animals and is then spread between humans. WHO states that it is believed that fruit bats are the original Ebola virus hosts, but the virus is introduced to humans through close contact with bodily fluids of infected animals including fruit bats, monkeys, chimpanzees, gorillas, antelope, and porcupines. These kinds of wild meats are known as bushmeat and are consumed in western Africa – the site of the Ebola outbreak and epidemic which has so far claimed almost 5,000 lives.
Despite the fact that the governments of West Africa have banned the bushmeat trade, in response to the Ebola outbreak, people continue to buy, sell, and eat bushmeat as a staple in their diet. Neither the ban on bushmeat, nor the spread of Ebola, has stopped people from consuming a food they have been eating forever.
If you think you’re safe from the infected meat here in the United States, think again. It is illegal to import bushmeat into the U.S., but it has been found and confiscated at JFK International Airport in New York and other U.S. ports of entry. Millions of dollars of bush meat are smuggled into the U.S. every year, and the majority comes from West Africa. A similar problem is faced by European authorities as well. For instance, authorities estimate that every year almost 3 million pounds of bushmeat makes its way illegally into Great Britain alone. While news reports have focused on Ebola being transmitted from people who have travelled from Africa, relatively little notice has been taken of all the bushmeat being shipped into the US and other countries.
While brave doctors and other health workers are doing everything they can to save those already with the disease, and to keep human to human transmission from happening, the only way to prevent these outbreaks from ever starting is by giving up the practice of eating bushmeat. While we have mostly written about disease from factory-farmed meat due to crowded and harsh animal agriculture, wild meats are not really any better. We suggest that those Paleo Diet enthusiasts who promote eating wild meat take note. The only solution to meat-borne diseases is the vegetarian solution.