Epe wet Market also known as the Oluwo Retail Market is Located in Epe. It is regarded as the biggest fish market in Nigeria.
From a casual look at the market demography, it is easily observable that most sellers in the market are women, who work closely with the fishermen and hunters.
Epe Wet Market: A Place of Fear
The wet market is popular for inexpensive fresh fish and other non-conventional protein sources locally known as “bushmeat”. Naturally, it is an ideal go-to place for any seafood lover. However, the narrative has changed since the inception of COVID-19.
COVID-19 allegedly started in a similar wet market like Epe fish market — Huanan Seafood market in Wuhan, China.
Upon the discovery of the root cause, there have been several conversations on the impact of wet markets in the spread of zoonotic diseases.
In an online article, a professor of Zoonotic and Emerging Diseases, Malcolm Bennett was interviewed and quoted as saying that every single animal at a wet market is likely to have an infection.
The Professor advised against the gathering of animals and people together which could lead to what he refers to as biodiversity of disease.
Why Is Epe Wet Market Is A Source Of concern?
Of course, one of the things that set Epe Wet Market apart is the availability of animals, both dead and alive, for trading. Snakes, crocodiles, grass-cutters, pangolins and so on are common sights at the wet market.
With the availability of myriads of animals and the unhygienic way that many sellers adopt in interacting with these animals, the fear that the next epidemic or even pandemic, like the COVID-19 could come from Africa is justified.
Prof Catherine Bennett, a leading researcher and teacher in public health in one of his numerous interviews mentioned that zoonotic disease like COVID-19, SARS, Ebola, HIV and Rabies (all believed to have first originated from animals) can be easily transmitted when there is prolonged human contact with a wide range of living or dead domestic or wild animals.
A group of volunteers led by Thomas Dobler, a Germany-based tourist who had secretly recorded conditions at the Oluwo fish market said “Transportation of animals to wildlife trade at this market enables the spread of diseases from animals to other animals and pose threat to human health”.
What are the ways out?
There is a need to drive public awareness of the risk involved in the wet market operations and people should be given education on safe animal trade and hygiene.