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June 12th, 2008
12:02 PM ET

Animal viruses and humans

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/06/12/art.bushmeat1.jpg caption="Some of the deadliest viruses in the world come from this 'Bush Meat', but it still remains a necessary part of the diet in Cameroon."]

Dr. Sanjay Gupta
Chief Medical Correspondent

This week, I am in Cameroon investigating a piece for the CNN documentary “Planet in Peril: Battle Lines.” I am writing this from a small village called Nyabissan. Don’t bother trying to find it on a map. It is in the heart of the jungle and one of the more remote places I have ever been.

In fact, you are reading this blog because Neil Hallsworth, our camera man, was able to point a small, portable satellite dish in the sky and get a signal and then send this piece along with some of the video we shot back to Atlanta.

We picked this place because it is a hot spot in the world of viruses. It turns out there is a constant exchange of viruses here between animals and humans. There is a very cozy relationship here between humans and animals, such as rodents, snakes, mammals and other primates.

Just today, we passed two men who had killed an enormous viper, another hunter with a pangolin (also known as a scaly anteater) and two young kids with two dead monkeys. While this “Bush Meat” represents a necessary part of the diet, it can sometimes be a problem.

Read the rest of the blog...


Filed under: Dr. Sanjay Gupta • Medical News • Planet in Peril
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. John Robert Thorn, Md

    Seems as though the Policy of CNN is to screen the comments and
    not post a comment that will enlighten others to TRUTH!

    Moderate this!

    J.Thorn Md.

    June 13, 2008 at 6:23 am |
  2. Jolene

    Dr. Gupta: I would have never connected "bush meat" to emerging diseases. It does make sense.

    Do I think we are doing enough to monitor and stop emerging diseases around the world? No, I don't. When in comes to Public Health concerns, you can't help but think about the history of viral outbreaks we've been seeing in China and the fact that a lot of Americans and others will be in Beijing this summer for the Olympics. Whether the Chinese government hides information or not, it is alarming. I'm left wondering how much control, globally, we have regarding disease and the prevention of major outbreaks. Good luck with your reporting!

    Jolene, St. Joseph, MI

    June 12, 2008 at 11:36 pm |
  3. winar, indonesia

    What a brave thing to do. Stay alert!

    June 12, 2008 at 10:32 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    Dr. Gupta

    Scary sounding stuff – "new" diseases that pass from animals to humans and old diseases that we thought were gone from last century coming back with climate change. Its going to be a very different world for us and our children – I just hope our scientists can find cures or vaccines for all these new diseases.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    June 12, 2008 at 10:05 pm |
  5. Sharon from Indy

    Dr. Gupta:
    I understand the virus concept of pathogens jumping from one species to another, but I think most of these viruses were probably around long before man was on this planet. Or are there new viruses mutating? What exactly are you, Wolfe, Lebreton and Saylors looking for to forecast the next plague.

    Careful out there!

    June 12, 2008 at 8:11 pm |
  6. Tammy, Berwick, LA

    Having spent the last 18 years of my life researching and working in HIV and STD prevention in some way, I can tell you we never do enough to stop the spread of these diseases. The cost to all of us is too great to ever become complacent and say we're researching enough, preventing enough, spending enough, or treating enough until the diseases are eradicated and no longer an issue for anyone. Any valid addition to the body of knowledge is wonderful. I hope what you all are doing becomes part of this. But we can't stop until these maladies are simply part of medical history for the world.

    June 12, 2008 at 3:47 pm |
  7. Michelle

    This sounds a little scary. Did this all start with bird flu?
    And does this mean the viruses are evolving and multiplying
    around the world. Even mad cow seems to be coming to America.

    June 12, 2008 at 1:32 pm |
  8. Praetorian, Fort Myers

    Dr. Gupta....
    Veterinary Medicine is costly and their are literally now affordable insurance programs in our nation I've been able to locate.

    What's to become of our poor pets–who follow instinct and not contracts re: their roaming.

    What can a family do who possesses several Cat's who make it a habit of escaping into the great outdoors?

    June 12, 2008 at 12:20 pm |
  9. Cindy

    Sanjay,
    YUCK...I can not see eating any of that stuff at all!! Thank God I live here and don't have too!

    With them being in such a remote area I guess you take what you can get when things get bad. Guess they are in a precarious situation...they either eat these animals or die. But now that they have gotten deeper into the jungle and eating things and animals with viruses they are really opening up a new can of worms. Not only for themselves and their communities but for all of us, seeing as though these viruses can and probably will eventually make their way out of there and back to us. But really what can be done? These people have to eat and it seems no one is coming to help them.

    Can't wait to see your report on this. And you all stay safe out there!! And DON'T be eating anything that you didn't bring!! LOL

    Cindy...Ga.

    June 12, 2008 at 12:15 pm |