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Friday, July 19, 2024

Nigeria to Hunt Down Rats in Response to Lassa Fever Outbreak

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The federal government says it will launch a national deratisation framework to tackle the occurrence of Lassa fever in states that experience consistent annual outbreaks.

The Minister of State for Environment, Iziaq Salako, said this on Monday in Abuja at a news conference on the outbreak of Acute Viral Hemorrhagic Fever (VHF), suspected to be Lassa Fever, at 44 Nigerian Army Reference Hospital in Kaduna.

The briefing was tagged “Health pillar towards mitigation, prevention and control of Lassa Fever in Nigeria”.

Mr Sadako said the ministry in response to the outbreak, had constituted a team and recommended that deratisation be carried out in the facility to reduce the population of rats, which is the disease-carrying vector.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Ibrahim Idris, the minister said the team also had a meeting with the Kaduna State emergency response team.

According to him, the state epidemiologist said out of the 12 suspected cases, six have been confirmed with five mortalities as of 25 February.

“Additionally, two of the suspected cases originated from another facility, the Barau Dikko Hospital, and 92 persons are currently under surveillance as contact persons.

“To combat the outbreak, the ministry implemented the following interventions under the Environmental Health Pillar.

“These include dispatch of vector wax block rodenticide to Kaduna for massive deratization of suspected facilities.

“Activation of all environmental health personnel in the state for surveillance to identify rat infestations in communities, districts and wards, and report such cases for treatment/abatement.

“The compliance of all health and education facilities, hotels, restaurants, recreation facilities, markets, motor parks, and other public facilities in the state with the massive deratisation exercise as a matter of regulation.”

READ ALSO: Lassa fever: Ondo records three infections, as govt doles out 10,000 rat poison doses

Mr Salako added that the Environmental Health Council (EHCON) and other environmental health authorities would issue deratisation certificates or exemptions to the facilities after the deratisation.

The Registrar of EHCON, Yakubu Baba, expressed concern about the annual recurrence of Lassa fever in the country but pledged that there would be a change in approach to tame the disease.

“We are targeting less reduction of the outbreak, minimising the outbreak within Kaduna so that it cannot escalate to any other state.

“Deratisation and awareness creation at the community level we are embarking on, are part of the preventive measures.

“So, basically we are putting measures in place to make sure that there is massive deratisation to reduce the population of the vectors that cause the disease.

“We will issue certificates of deratisation to communities without evidence of rat infestation.

“We will focus on communities and states that are prone to the disease annually, ” he said.

(NAN)

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