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Ebola: Bush Meat Sellers Lament

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More than three weeks since the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Nigeria, many Nigerians have suffered from the scourge, either directly or indirectly.
According to the Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, at least three people have so far died in Nigeria as a result of the dreaded disease since a Liberian businessman, Dr. Patrick Sawyer imported the disease into Lagos on 20 July, 2014.
The minister also informed in a press briefing that no fewer than 10 people have so far been confirmed to have contracted the Ebola virus while 189 persons are being monitored to ascertain if they would show traces of the disease.
Apart from these set of people, other Nigerians that have suffered heavily from the outbreak of the Ebola virus in Nigeria are bush meat sellers.
This is as a result of the disclosure that the deadly Ebola virus could be contracted through animals like Antelopes, bats, monkeys etc.
Since this revelation, the fear of Ebola virus has forced regular patronisers of bush meat to desert joints where bush meat are sold across the country.
A check on highways and federal roads where bush meat sellers usually place their stands and display various species of wild animal to entice travellers are now empty as the sellers have been discouraged due to low sales.
Speaking on their plight since the outbreak of the Ebola virus, Mr Idris Aleghe, 36, who sells bush meat along kabba road in Kogi State said: “I was not aware that there was a disease that is caused by bush meat until one of my regular customers told me that he would not buy from me because Ebola virus is in town.
“It was that I gathered in the news that the disease is already in Nigeria and that one of the ways it cound be contracted is through eating of bush meat.
“Since then, I have been recording low patronage from my customers and many of my colleagues have stopped coming to sell because of the amount of unsold bush meat we have to take back home daily.”
When asked of other jobs he could be doing pending when the Ebola virus outbreak would be curtailed, Aleghe said:“I have no other job, this is what my family do for a living and I have seven children and two wives.
“We now eat the meat that is meant for sale since there is no money to cater for the family. We have been eating the bush meat and nothing has happened to any of my family member.”
Not only the bush meat seller on the highways have been suffering from the outbreak of the Ebola virus but also the smoked meat (suya )sellers, the barbeque bars and the Asun (grilled meat) sellers in Lagos.
According to Al-Kaleed, who has a suya spot in front of a popular club in Ipaja area in Lagos, informed that most of his customers now drive past him without stopping by to order for suya meat.
“I am not even selling cow meat; I make my suya from goat meat I buy here in Lagos at Agege market. But I realised these days that before I sell suya to my customer, he or she would ask me to eat out of the meat in other to be convinced that my suya is safe.
“And sometimes I would have to sell a suya that should cost about N1,000 for N500 naira just to get it out sold before it gets spoilt,” Al-Kaleed stated.
Also narrating his ordeal since the Ebola scourge hit Lagos, Mr Shola, who sells barbecue along Adeniyi Jones in Ikeja, Lagos, said in a bid to encourage his customers to continue to patronise his barbecue he has been observing new measures while preparing and dishing his barbecue.
“I have a sanitizer by my table and when I try to cut the meat for customers, I put my disposable hand gloves on so as to prevent any direct skin contact.
“I always ensure that I dispose used gloves after each sale and put on another one to sell for the next customer.
“Though I incur more expenses because of these new safety measures but it is worth doing so as to keep the business going during this Ebola virus outbreak,” Shola said.
In spite of the risks of consuming bush meat during this period of scare over Ebola virus, Mr Vincent Onyebuchi, a regular buyer of Suya at Akowonjo area in Lagos, said: “I must tell you that despite the warning that one could contract the Ebola virus through bush meat, I still patronise suya joints after each day’s close of work.
“It is like an addiction that I cannot easily let go, not even for the fear Ebola virus.”
The 36-year-old banker added that “each day I close from work; I would stop by at my usual suya joint and buy 1000 naira worth of suya to eat with bread or garri when I get home.
“What I do is that I pray over the suya when I want to eat it.”
Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, while speaking at a recent press briefing in Lagos, urged residents in Lagos to improve on their personal hygiene in other to reduce the chances of contracting the Ebola virus.
He also implores those who deals in expose consumables to hygienically fashion out a more ethical preparation and packaging of their goods so as to encourage potential buyers and risks of contracting Ebola virus.

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