Roasted Rats Meat

Lassa fever: Stop eating rats, Minister urges Nigerians

Alexander Davis

Against the backdrop of rampant cases of Lassa fever across the states of the Federation, Dr. Mohammad Abubakar, Minister for Environment, has advised Nigerians to stop eating rats for now.

Twenty-nine deaths cases have been recorded due to Lassa fever outbreak in the country.

Dr. Abubakar, agency report says, gave the advice, while briefing the newsmen on the ongoing Lassa fever outbreak in Nigeria Monday, January 27, in Abuja, FCT.

Lassa fever is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated with rodents (rat) urine or faeces, he noted.

He said, “Nigeria is currently experiencing Lassa fever outbreak in several parts of the country with reported cases of fatalities.

“Latest report from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) released on January 25 indicated that 195 confirmed cases and 29 deaths have been recorded in 11 states.

“Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Delta, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi, Ogun, Abia, Kano and Enugu,” he disclosed.

According to him, 89 per cent of the confirmed cases are from Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi states.

“It is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness. It can also be transmitted from person to person through contact with blood, urine, faeces and other body fluids of an infected person,” he said.

He said it was against this background that the ministry organised the press briefing to respond to the increasing number of Lassa cases across the country and to sensitise the general public on it preventive and control measures.

“The ministry is making efforts in collaboration with NCDC and other stakeholders in tackling the Lassa fever scourge.

“Lassa fever is endemic in Nigeria and often associated with poor sanitary hygiene practices with cases being recorded all year round.

The Minister for Environment explained that the virus is transmitted by rodents (rats) which can be found in our environment, including homes, motor parks, offices and places of worship.

It contributes largely to the risk of spread that occurs in Nigeria and other countries with similar ecological factors, he opined.

According to him, early symptoms are fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, sore throat among others.

“It is in very severe cases that the patient bleeds from body openings; maturity period of Lassa fever ranges from six to 21 days.”

The minister said before the recent outbreak, the ministry had taken proactive measures to improve the overall general sanitation and hygiene situation in the country.

He said that the ministry in 2019 established Sanitation Desks in all the 36 states of the country.

Abubakar said that these sanitation desk officers were to coordinate sanitation and related activities within their states, liaise with their respective Local Government Environment Departments and report back to the Federal Ministry of Environment.

“They are also expected to monitor and report Lassa fever cases and other environmental determinants of diseases to the Federal Ministry of Environment headquarters. The sanitation desks are to be replicated in all 774 LGAs in the country.

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