Ed Stoddard, Reuters, June 19, 2006
ANTANANARIVO — The lethal Ebola virus could erupt in Paris or London because of the illicit trade in African wild meat which is following immigrant communities there, a leading expert said on Monday.
Ebola and the deadly Marburg virus also infect wild primates such as apes and some studies suggest humans contract the disease while handling infected carcasses. The ultimate source is a mystery but evidence points to bats.
“There is bushmeat going into places like Paris and London, being smuggled in for the immigrant market. So an Ebola outbreak could happen there,” said Dr. Robert Swanepoel of South Africa’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases.
The plague which killed a third of Europe’s population in the mid-14th century also followed trade routes. And like that plague, Ebola and Marburg cause panic.
“They spark panic and people flee. And unlike AIDS, they kill medical staff and paralyze medical services,” said Swanepoel.
Ebola victims bleed internally and externally from any opening in the body. Fatality rates are 80 percent or more.