Ebola Research Report Explores ‘Bat-Human’ Transmission

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A six-month research report, studying the connection between the alleged transmission of the Ebola virus disease from a bat to a human being and forest fragmentation in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, has been released in Monrovia.
Released by the Environmental Research Management Foundation, Environmental Foundation for Africa in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the report revealed that forest fragmentation increased the risk of animal to human transmission of the Ebola virus and other diseases.
Forest fragmentation takes place when large forests are cut down or “fragmented” into smaller patches, for development activities such as agriculture, infrastructure or human dwellings, among others.
The report analyzed bats’ response to fragmented forest landscapes, indicating that in such conditions, it is possible for several species of bats, other animals and humans that normally would not be in contact, to come into contact.
Tommy Garnett, Director of the Environmental Foundation for Africa said there is a need for every agency to have a strong environmental protection component to ensure that human lives are not endangered whenever a development is being done.
“If there was a strong environmental protection component at most of the ministries, most of the factories would not have been where they are situated, because some of the chemicals they use affect the health of the people,” Garnett argued.
He said at the peak of the Ebola crisis, many lost their lives, especially in those forested countries; and they decided to take a closer look in the area of their forests.
Ms. Shona King, Global Manager of ERUM, said the report is a result of the recent EVD outbreak in the three surrounding countries and its effect on the environment.
She said the new report investigated seven outbreaks where the Ebola virus was transmitted from its wild reservoir, suspected to be bats, to a human.
Ms. King said the result of the outbreak in the three effected countries, (Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea), led to the deaths of more than 11,000 persons, and massive social upheaval and billions of dollars lost in economic activity.
Quoting the report, she said it analyzed the forest cover conditions at the times of the seven outbreaks and, in three cases, changes in the landscape in the thirty years leading up to the outbreak.
The Ebola Virus Disease and Forest Fragmentation report recommends that natural resources management and environment should be integrated as core elements and evaluation criteria of recovery programs; not as box-ticking impact-assessment exercises.
It also recommended that the interdisciplinary expert group should advise policy-makers how to apply a precautionary approach to economic recovery plans to reduce the risk of future outbreaks.

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