The Nipah epidemic may be under control but exotic food lovers have been advised to be careful when eating bat meat.
People who catch, kill and clean bats must take precautions to protect themselves from being infected by the Nipah virus, said Prof Dr Tan Chong Tin, the leader of the Nipah Encephalitis Investigating Team during the 1998/99 outbreak.
“They also need to be careful because bats are believed to transmit the SARS virus,” he said during his Merdeka Award Lecture Series “The Saga of Nipah Encephalitis: An Update” yesterday.
Asked if eating bat meat could pose a danger, he said that should not be a problem if it was properly cooked.
However, Dr Tan, said he would not want to create an anti-bats sentiment because bats had a positive ecological contribution.
Bats are also believed to benefit those suffering from asthma. According to an online website, a community in Thailand eats the meat believing it to be good for the libido.
Dr Tan said that the Nipah virus was still a global concern because it had been discovered in many areas of the world like Ghana, Madagascar, India, China and various parts of South East Asia and Australia.
Asked if the virus can still be found in Malaysia, Dr Tan said this was not known because no tests had been carried out since the 1998/99 outbreak.
The outbreak began in vilages near Ipoh and took more than 100 lives
The Star 27/5/2010