Bushmeat

Hand stamping, with stamp that reads ‘Bushmeat Illegal’ in circle

What is bushmeat?

  • The term “bushmeat” refers to raw or minimally processed meat that comes from wild animals in certain regions of the world including Africa and may pose a communicable disease
  • Bushmeat comes from a variety of wild animals, including bats, nonhuman primates (monkeys), cane rats (grasscutters), and duiker (antelope).
  • Bushmeat is often smoked, dried, or salted (these procedures are not sufficient to render the meat noninfectious).

Bushmeat is illegal

  • It is illegal to bring bushmeat into the United States.
  • Bushmeat, in any amount, found at US ports of entry will be destroyed along with any personal items that may have come in contact with the bushmeat.
  • There is a $250,000 fine for bringing bushmeat into the United States.

Bushmeat and Ebola

Collage of monkey and bat

Monkeys and bats are common sources of bushmeat.

  • Ebola is a rare and deadly disease that is spread through direct contact with the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or died from Ebola.
  • Generally, Ebola is not spread by food. However, in Africa human infections have been associated with hunting, butchering, and processing meat from infected animals.
  • To date, there have been no reports of human sickness in the United States from preparing or consuming bushmeat illegally brought into the United States.

Health concerns

  • Bushmeat could be infected with germs that can cause sickness in people, including the Ebola virus.
  • Ebola infections in people have been associated with handling and eating infected animals.

Take action

  • Do not bring bushmeat into the United States.
  • Do not eat or handle bushmeat.
  • Tell friends and family to avoid African bushmeat, because it is illegal to bring it into the United States, and it can make people sick.
  • If you must handle bushmeat, wear disposable gloves. When you remove your gloves, wash your hands with soap and water.
  • If you choose to eat bushmeat, make sure it is cooked thoroughly.

More information

  • To learn more about bushmeat, visit CDC’s Importation web page.
  • You can learn more about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa on CDC’s Ebola web page.