Nigerians were urged to stop eating rats as a precaution to reduce the spread of Lassa fever.
Chief Sharon Ikeazor, Minister for Environment, made the call. She urged Nigerians to kill and discard rats and stop drying crops where rodents might defecate.
Ikeazor, who made this call, assured Nigerians it had taken all measures to end the situation. It has intensified activities on environmental health as well as sanitation response to the Lassa virus outbreak in Nigeria.
She also mentioned that the ministry has a presence within the 36 states of federation through her environment officers to drive hygienic conditions 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 observed an increase in Lassa fever cases across the country. This was according to data from the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control, NCDC (January 16th 2022).
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The report showed that there were 96 confirmed cases and 11 fatalities between 3rd and 16th January 2022 in 27 Local Governance Areas in 11 States, which include Bauchi (Edo), Ondo, Benue and Taraba), Kaduna and Taraba, Kaduna and Plateau, Kaduna and Kaduna and Plateau. This is in addition of the 510 confirmed cases, and 102 death that occurred between January 2021 – 2 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. We are establishing sustainable programmes that focus on eliminating and reducing the breeding grounds for disease vectors. This involves fostering collaboration between 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 have been enjoined by this resolution to develop a comprehensive Lassa virus prevention program that will include rodent infestation surveys and deratization.
Ikeazor assured the public that the Ministry is committed to ensuring that the environment is safe, clean, and healthy for all.
The Lassa fever virus can be transmitted by rodents (rats), which are found in our environment, including our homes, offices, and places of worship. This is a major factor in the spread of Lassa fever virus to Nigeria and other countries that have similar ecological factors.
The Minister asked the public to clean up their surroundings, keep food from rodents, store grain and other food in rodent-proof containers, cook all food thoroughly before consumption.