By Samuel Oyadongha
YENAGOA – The usually busy bush meat spots along the Isaac Boro expressway in Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital is now a shadow of itself with most customers staying away.
The bush meat spots are located around the Otiotio junction, at the Yenizue-Gene suburb and the Julius Berger axis of Azikoro end of the expressway.
Assorted bush meat such as antelopes, grass-cutters, wild pigs, hedgehogs and monkeys among others could be purchased at the spot.
However, patronage at the spots has reduced drastically lately following reports that the virus may be contracted through eating wild animals.
Some of vendors, who spoke to Vanguard, said the reports linking the Ebola virus to wild animals had forced most of their customers to stay away from buying bush meat.
One of the vendors selling rabbit said: “It has not been easy for us since the Ebola alert. I’m yet to make any sale. Before now, I would have sold at least 15 pieces from my stock especially as families are returning from church services.”
Madam Vivien, who operates a bush meat/palm wine joint along the Edepie-Imiringi road said: “Bush meat for now is like a taboo to many due to the reports linking the virus to wild animals. Customers are avoiding bush meat right now, so we have to stop preparing it.”
Though the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ayibatonye Owei, had last, week during the World Hepatitis Day celebration, assured that government had taken proactive steps to prevent the spread of the virus in the state, he nonetheless urged residents to improve on their personal hygiene.
He described the outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa as a serious challenge facing mankind.
The commissioner, who represented Governor Seriake Dickson, said: “The Ebola virus has brought a lot of fright in West Africans and people all over the world. A large number of people have died from that contagious disease and people who contract the disease have to be quarantined.”
He, however, said there was no cause for panic in the state as government had commenced aggressive enlightenment campaign on the dangers of the virus as well as put in place measures to ensure quick detection of any case that will lead to containment and control.
He also stressed the need for residents to be vigilant and report any suspicious case to the nearest health facility.