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Guinea Bans Bat Eating to Curb Ebola Spread, Warns on Rats

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March 26 (Bloomberg) -- Guinea has forbidden the sale and consumption of bats and warned against eating rats and monkeys as the country combats a spread of Ebola, a hemorrhagic fever with a mortality rate of as much as 90 percent.

“We discovered the vector agent of the Ebola virus is the bat,” said Remy Lamah, the country’s health minister, in an interview from the town of N’zerekore today. “We sent messages everywhere to announce the ban. People must even avoid consumption of rats and monkeys. They are very dangerous animals.”

In the west African nation, the Toma, Kissi and Guerze ethnic groups eat bats with the first two communities living in an area around the Ebola-stricken towns of Macenta, Gueckedou and Kissidougou. So far at least 63 people are suspected to have died in Guinea’s first recorded outbreak of the disease.

“The Kissi community eats bats and the epidemic is making a lot of devastation," Moriba Traore, an inhabitant of Gueckedou, said by telephone. “Families in villages lost eight or ten members and people are dying. We are afraid.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Ougna Camara in Conakry at ocamara@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net Gordon Bell