University of Minnesota - Twin Cities
The world's largest and longest outbreak of Ebola currently ongoing in West Africa presents a potential threat to the United States. In the context of Ebola, the threat of contaminated food commodities entering the United States and the risk of human infection via consumption of contaminated food and / or human exposure via wildlife species or bushmeat, are challenging to quantify. Wildlife species including bats, non-human primates, forest antelope and rodents are known to be susceptible to Ebola virus infection, with large African fruit bats being the putative virus reservoir. The likelihood of a human being inside the United States becoming infected with Ebola virus via a contaminated food commodity or directly from imported wildlife or bushmeat originating in one of the West African outbreak affected countries was assessed. The Ebola outbreak in West Africa also threatens to disrupt the production and global trade of commodities produced in the region. This disruption could lead to second order effects in the food system such as an increased risk of economically motivated adulteration (EMA). Given this risk, we also performed an assessment of potential EMA vulnerability in West African food commodities, primarily cocoa, as a result of the Ebola outbreak.