Lassa Fever: Nigerian Universities Deploy Cats To Exterminate Rats

Authorities of the various universities in the country have deployed various strategies, including the use of cats, in order to prevent an outbreak of Lassa fever on campuses, findings by our correspondents reveal.

 

 

From the University of Benin, Edo State; Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, Kaduna State; University of Nigeria, Nsukka; Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Osun State; Enugu State University of Science and Technology to the University of Port Harcourt, Rivers State, the race for hunting of rats has taken a new dimension.

 
While some of the institutions employ the conventional approach such as cleanliness, sensitising students and members of staff to the danger of co-habiting with rats, and fumigation, others use the unorthodox mechanism like purchasing of cats to exterminate rats in their campuses.

 

Rats, especially the Natal multimammate mice (Mastomys natalensis), found in many sub-Saharan Africa, are believed to be the major carrier of Lassa fever or Lassa hemorrhagic fever. And statistics so far show that no fewer than 60 persons have lost their lives to the virus in Nigeria.

 

The authorities of UNIBEN are not giving anything to chance, especially with the reported death of a final-year engineering student. The student was said to be an occupant in Hall Three, one of the hostels on Ugbowo campus of the university.

 

But the UNIBEN management, through its Public Relations Officer, Mr. Michael Osasuyi, dismissed the speculation about the death of a student of the university.

 

According to him, there is no truth in the story that a final-year student died of the virus.

 

Osasuyi, who, however, said the university was carrying out proactive measures to forestall any outbreak in the institution, added that a committee had been set up to sensitise members of staff and students to the dangers of the virus.

 

He also hinted of plans to “de-rat the university” as part of efforts to check the prevalence of rodents in the community.

 

Osasuyi added, “The vice-chancellor has mandated the student union to organise sensitisation programmes. Before any outbreak, the university is even proactive. The population of student is much; so, we cannot take chances. It is no news that we have rats everywhere.”

 

However, it was also learnt that the various hostels had been fortified with cats allegedly provided by the university management to control the number of rats within the community.

 

The use of cats to prevent an outbreak of the virus is also practiced in ABU. It was gathered that the authorities, in declaring war on rats, provided cats on hostels, especially on Samaru and Kongo campuses.

 

The Director, Health Services of the ABU, Dr. Hauwa Nana-Madugu, who confirmed this, however, said the university was free of Lassa fever.

 

According to her, all the hostels – Amina, Suleiman, Akenzua, Danfo-dio, ICSA/Rammat – have been provided with cats to eliminate all rats.

 

Besides fumigating and clearing the surroundings, students and members of staff, she said, had been sensitised to the danger of the disease.

 

She added, “Apart from fumigating the environment, clearing of the bushes and rats’ (reservoir), the various hostels have been provided with cats to attack the rats. The university has no option but to safeguard the lives of the residents of the community.”

 

Credit : Punch

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