Lassa Fever: Stop eating rat- Minister Charges Nigerians

Nigerians have been urged to reconsider the habit of rat eating as a measure, to curtail the outbreak and spread of Lassa fever in the country.
Minister of Environment, Chief Sharon Ikeazor made the call as she enjoined Nigerians to deliberately kill and discard rats, desist from drying crops where rodents could defecate on them.
Ikeazor who made the call assured Nigerians that the ministry has taken all measures it can to arrest the situation as it has strengthened activities on environmental health and sanitation response to the Lassa fever outbreak in the country.
She also noted that the ministry has a presence in the 36 states of the federation through her environment health officers to drive hygienic conditions and practices by Nigerians.
The Statement signed by Director Press, Federal Ministry of Environment, Saghir el Mohammed, read in part: “She also advised residents to block rat hideouts, carry out deratization, and put an end to the practice of eating rats.
“Dry farm-produce in hygienic manners by refraining from drying crops on the ground where rodents could freely run through; as Lassa fever is often associated with poor sanitary and hygiene practices with cases being recorded all year round.”
Ikeazor noted that there had been increased reported cases of Lassa fever cases in the country across the country sourced from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) of 16th January 2022.
The report indicated 96 confirmed cases and 11 deaths from 3rd to 16th January, 2022 in 27 Local Government Areas across 11 States that include Bauchi, Edo, Ondo, Benue, Taraba, Kaduna, Plateau, Kogi, Cross River, Ebonyi and Oyo. This is in addition to the 510 confirmed cases and 102 deaths that occurred from January 2021 to 2nd January, 2022.
Ikeazor said, “The Minister revealed that before the recent outbreak, the Ministry had taken proactive measures to improve the overall sanitation and hygiene situation in the country by establishing Sanitation Desks in all the 36 states of the Federation and the FCT to ensure proper monitoring and proactive measures on environmental health issues and concerns.
“This is in addition to the setting up of Environmental Health Surveillance Systems designed to strengthen cooperation between the states and Federal government on Environmental health and Sanitation issues which aid information/data gathering and sharing between the Federal, state and Local Governments.
“They are also involved in prevention and containment activities including surveillance/monitoring and reporting of Lassa fever cases and other environmental determinant diseases to the Federal Ministry of Environment headquarters. The Sanitation Desks are being replicated in all the 774 LGAs in the country,”
“As a Ministry, we remain committed to our mandate of pest and vector control in Nigeria. To this end, we are entrenching sustainable programmes focusing on eliminating and reducing breeding avenues for disease vectors which involve fostering collaboration with relevant stakeholders.
“Furthermore, we shall continue to develop the capacity of environmental health practitioners in the federal, state and local government jurisdictions. State Ministries of Environment are hereby enjoined to develop a comprehensive Lassa fever prevention programme that will include rodent infestation survey and deratization.
Ikeazor assured the general public that the Ministry remains committed to ensuring that the environment remains clean, healthy and safe for all.
The Lassa fever virus is transmitted by rodents (rats) which can be found in our environment including homes, motor parks, offices and even places of worship. This contributes largely to the risk of spread that occurs in Nigeria and other countries with similar ecological factors.
The Minister, therefore, called on members of the public to keep their surroundings clean, keep food away from rodents, store grains and other foodstuffs in rodent-proof containers and cook all foods thoroughly before consumption.(Nigerian Tribune)

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