Lassa Fever: Nigerians asked to stay away from rats, wash hands with running water, soaps, Minister advises

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From: Bamidele Fashube, Abuja

Mohammad Abubakar, Minister of Environment has advised Nigerians to avoid eating rats and maintain proper hygiene to keep safe against the deadly Lassa-fever infection.

The Minister issued the warning during press briefing held Monday at the ministry in Abuja.

Aside, he also advised Nigerians to ensure they embark on regular hand-washing as part of measures to keep safe.

​“Citizens are advised to imbibe good sanitation and hygiene practices and take preventive and control measures that include: Keeping the environment clean to avoid contact with rodents; Keeping food away from rodents and washing hands regularly with soap and running water.”


Others are, “using protective equipment e.g. masks, gloves, gowns etc. in healthcare centre and when caring for the sick; Storing grains and other food stuff in rodent proof containers; Disposing wastes regularly and far away from home; Cooking all foods thoroughly; Blocking rat hide outs; Deratization and to avoid or stop eating rats as much as possible.”

Since the Lassa-fever outbreak, about 29 deaths have been recorded and 195 confirmed cases in 11 States. They include Edo, Ondo, Ebonyi, Delta, Taraba, Plateau, Bauchi, Ogun, Abia, Kano and Enugu. Out of the confirmed cases, 89% are from Ondo, Edo and Ebonyi States.

“Lassa Fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness. It is transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated with rodents (rat) urine or faeces. It can also be transmitted from person to person through contact with blood, urine, faeces and other body fluids of an infected person.”

“Early symptoms are fever, headache, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, sore throat etc. It is in very severe cases that the patient bleeds from body openings. The maturity period of Lassa fever ranges from 6-21 days.”

However, the minister restated commitment to ensure proper environmental protection. He said the ministry would continue to work with the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) to respond to the increasing number of Lassa fever cases across the country. Also, sensitize the general public on Lassa fever preventive and control measures to avert further outbreak and spread.

 

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