Zoonotic diseases are the main contributor to emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) and present a major threat to global public health. Bushmeat is an important source of protein and income for many African people, but bushmeat-related activities have been linked to numerous EID outbreaks, such as Ebola, HIV, and SARS.
Importantly, increasing demand and commercialization of bushmeat is exposing more people to pathogens and facilitating the geographic spread of diseases. To date, these linkages have not been systematically assessed.
Here we review the literature on bushmeat and EIDs for sub-Saharan Africa, summarizing pathogens (viruses, fungi, bacteria, helminths, protozoan, and prions) by bushmeat taxonomic group to provide for the first time a comprehensive overview of the current state of knowledge concerning zoonotic disease transmission from bushmeat into humans.
We conclude by drawing lessons that we believe are applicable to other developing and developed regions and highlight areas requiring further research to mitigate disease risk.