Lassa Fever: FG Launches National Deratisation Exercise To Prevent, Control Spread

By Miriam Humbe

The 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.

Represented by the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Environment, Mahmud Adam Kambari, the Minister while briefing the Press in Abuja said: “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), had provided the etiological pattern of the disease.

12 suspected cases were recorded with 6 mortalities, 2 additional cases originated from another facility in Barau Dikko Hospital, while 92 persons were under surveillance as contact persons.

The team had 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 our’s in the Environment Sector was to provide solution, make the environment safe and unconducive for the vector to grow because it was responsible for the disease.

Similarly, 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 rats proof. In the character of rats once there is no food, rats vacates 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 parts.

He also said farmers using roads for drying farm products should be discouraged from doing so as this gives rats to come and urinate, passing faeaces that contains the virus that caused the disease and contamination of the food.

Dr. Yakubu pleaded with communities to reduce or stop taking bush meat, as it was not healthy for now because the virus has residual effect even after the death of the animal.

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