Lassa fever: Preventive measures we have taken – Abuja residents
As government agencies combine efforts to contain the ravaging Lassa fever, which has spread across 17 states, resulting in over 63 deaths and large numbers of infections, individuals are adopting measures to avoid contracting the deadly disease. Some Abuja residents who spoke to Chuks NZEH reeled out steps they have taken to tackle rodents, the major carriers of the disease. Excerpts:
You cannot be 100 per cent sure about how clean and protected your environment is. So for me, even before Lassa fever came, I have been using this transparent plastic buckets to protect my foods from pest and rats.
I also use camphor, pesticides and rat poison. They help me to protect my home from pests. So for me, it is already a routine to ensure that I am protected because life has no duplicate.
Government’s approach to the control of the disease over the years has always been reactionary. We don’t need to wait for persons to be infected by the virus before raising the alarm or try to prevent.
What is needed to help curtail Lassa fever is a multi-pronged approach that focuses on the control of the rodent host of the virus using integrated vector management, IVM, which is an integral part of an Integrated Pest Management, IPM, process.
Proactive and effective rodent control programs in different geographical areas with emphasis on the key focal areas must be implemented for a holistic containment of the Lassa epidemic.
I use the popular rat killer to control rodents. We see it being carried around by some young men in my area.
Personally, I do not like to see rats in my house, so I buy the rat killer always. But now it is very expensive.
What we used to buy for N100 now goes for N200. However, I think money should not be the problem but how to prevent people from contacting the virus.
I now avoid some things I used to do before like drinking Ijebu garri. So those of us who are into the garri drinking habit have to quit for now till the time is right, except you are sure of the source. But for me, I will wait for Lassa to go before I continue.
According to what we hear, the Lassa virus has claimed about 70 lives already, so anybody who is not mad will know that caution needs to be taken especially with regards to what we eat. It is said that "what is within the body kills faster than what is without."
Those of us who live in suburbs often have ‘small visitors’ in our houses and if you allow them to remain, they feed on your meals and drop the poisons on the food.
I have done my own clean up and killed all the rats in my house with rat ‘killer.’
Before now if I close for the day and pack my unsold breads, rats would always eat them and give me shortage in profit.
What I usually do is to cut off the affected parts of the bread and sell the rest to my customers. Although nothing has happened to any of them because I want to keep my customers, I now clean up the place and have bought containers to protect the food items especially bread.
So my problem with rats in my business was handled about three years ago. Now, what I do is to ensure I sustain what I have already achieved.
But we have to be more cautious not to make mistakes that can be deadly, so we also pray Allah to help us in our business.
We have taken precautionary measures by inviting environmental health officers to do the needful because we also partake in the consumption of the edibles we produce.
Pest control experts certified by the appropriate authorities were here about a month ago to rate this garden and put in place the required safety measures to forestall any re-emergence of pests and rodents.
Also, our staffers have been trained on personal hygiene and how to handle items to prevent the spread.
I assure you we are not relenting. We urge other eateries and entertainment centres that have not done de-rat to do so as soon as possible.