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Lassa Fever: Nigeria Launches National Deratisation Exercise

“The issue of waste management cannot be over emphasized. At this time and period, reminant food should not be exposed.”

The Hon Minister of State for Environment Dr. Iziaq Adekunle Salako  has launched the National Deratization framework exercise to prevent and control the spread of Lassa fever in the Country.

The Minister who was respresented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mahmud Kambari while briefing the Press in Abuja  stated that “I stand to provide an update on the recent outbreak of Lassa Fever  reported by 44 Army Referral Hospital in Kaduna State and subsequent spread of the disease in the state.”

He said the meeting with the State Emergency Response Team (SERT), has provided the etiological pattern of the disease. 12 suspected cases was recorded with 6 mortality, 2 additional cases originated from another facility in Barau Dikko Hospital , while 92 persons are under surveillance  as contact person, adding that the team has visited the affected facility (44 Army Referral Hospital) on 25th of February 2024 which gathered information as follows:

The general hygiene and cleanliness of the hospital was assessed as well as measures put in place to prevent the spread of the disease through disinfection and decontamination were both deemed effective and  found adequate.

The team further confirmed the efficacy of the treatment by using an ITP machine and use of sodium hydrochloride in correct proportion and formulation to ensure safety of the facility.

The team recommended that the facility be deratized to reduce the population of the disease carrying vector, specifically rats.

He noted that environment sector is to provide solution, make the environment safe and unconducive for the vector to grow because it is responsible for the disease.

The Registrar,  Environmental Health Council of Nigeria (EHCON), Dr. Yakubu Baba Muhammad  reiterated that the Minister’s directives on all the facilities whether public or private should undergo derating exercise for examples  hotels, markets, restaurants and recreation centres after which they will be issued Derating Exemption Certificate by EHCON.

Dr. Yakubu disclosed that the ministry has directed the Council to embark on massive capacity building to update the knowledge of the practioners on the new innovations, new approaches to control and address the disease.

He added that component of health education, promotion and creation of awareness in the communities also plays an important role.

“At the community level, the issue of waste management cannot be over emphasized. At this time and period, reminant food should not be exposed while our food stuff and stores should be rat proof. In the character of rats once there is no food,  rats vacate the house,” he added

He further emphasized that another approach to combat the spread of this disease is  by getting to the grassroot,  its a collective responsibility as government is doing their job, citizens should do their part.

He also said farmers using roads for drying farm products should be discouraged from doing so because this gives rats opportunity to come and urinate and defecate, which contains the virus that causes disease and contamination of the food.

Yakubu warned that our communities should reduce or stop taking bush meat, saying ir is not healthy for now because the virus has residual effect even after the death of the animal.

Michael Olugbode in Abuja

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