Contact with wild animals leaves Ugandans prone to Ebola

Increasing contact with wild animals is making Uganda more prone to Ebola outbreaks, according to a disease prevention adviser for the World Health Organization.

Mariam Nanyonjo, an adviser for the WHO's Kampala office, said that people in Uganda are encroaching on wildlife habitats which host the Ebola virus and other diseases. Ugandans also eat bush meat, which further increases the risk of contracting the disease, the Observer reports.

"Monkeys and bats are the reservoirs for Ebola, and not all bats but fruit-eating bats," Nanyonjo said, according to the Observer.

Denis Lwamafa, the commissioner for National Disease Control in Uganda's Ministry of Health, said that the depletion of forests puts disease carrying bats and monkeys much closer to humans.

"Where we have had Ebola, the monkeys were coming into people's homes and sharing food, and the bats were even staying in some houses after their habitats were destroyed and bushes cleared for farming in the cases of Luweero, Kibaale, and Bundibugyo, among other areas." Lwamafa said, according to the Observer.

People in the area may also be eating fruits and other fruits partially eaten by bats, which could increase the risk of transmitting the disease.

In the past four months, the Ebola virus killed at least 29 people in three separate outbreaks, the Observer reports.