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The bat meat chain and perceptions of the risk of contracting Ebola in the Mount Cameroon region

Journal article
Authors Efuet Simon Akem
Ngambouk Vitalis Pemunta
Published in BMC Public Health
Volume 20
ISSN 1471-2458
Publication year 2020
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Language en
Keywords bat meat chain, intersectionality, zoonotic diseases, gender, poverty, health education
Subject categories Health Care Service and Management, Health Policy and Services and Health Economy, Environmental Health and Occupational Health, Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology, Sociology


Abstract Background Local people’s interaction with bats render them vulnerable to Ebola Virus Disease (EVD). This paper examines perceptions of risk involved in the hunting, handling, processing and consumption of bat meat in the Mount Cameroon region of Southwest Cameroon. It focuses on the myriad cultural beliefs, gendered patterns of activity and institutional arrangements in which the bat meat production chain is embedded. Methods We conducted 30 ethnographic interviews with a sample of purposively selected men and women involved in the bat meat trade. The interviews were tape recorded, transcribed verbatim and inductive analysis was performed on the data. Findings The findings suggests that more urban men than villagers and hunters consume bat meat. Different practices and behaviours expose the mostly uneducated, young, single men and women to the risk of Ebola infection depending on their differential level of intervention in the human-bat interaction and value chain linking hunters, sellers and customers. The killing of bats with the mouth during hunting expose hunters (young men) while the preparation of bat carcasses for consumption also put women, (mostly young and unmarried) at risk. Conclusions This study demonstrates that the complexity and nuances of gender, poverty and Ebola outcomes predispose some marginal groups to the risk of infection with zoonotic diseases. There is the need to improve public health intervention and health education among the rural masses in the Mount Cameroon region.

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