Mr Toyin Oshaniwa, an environmental and sustainability consultant, urged the general public to properly dispose dead rats to reduce the spread of Lassa hemorrhagic fever.
Oshaniwa told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that most dead rats were thrown on the streets, thus exposing the general public to the epidemic.
“The issue of how we dispose of the rats killed is a serious problem. We throw them on the roads; a car smashes it and drives into the house.
“A cat comes and feed on the same dead rat on the road and runs back into the house; a fellow steps on the same street and goes back to the house with the foot.
“A child’s food will fall to the floor and they will pick them up and eat, or even a child steps on the road and goes to school, these are danger signs,’’ Oshaniwa said.
The environmentalist also cautioned against the killing of rats, stating that they are part of the ecosystem.
“Killing of rats will be a good thing; but as a biologist and an environmentalist, I would say, it’s not good.
“ However, I will not blame anybody for killing a rat now.
“The rats have been with us since human race began, and they will always be with us, I guess we humans should learn how to manage our environment.
“What if the rats have a role to play in the ecosystem; I am not saying that we shouldn’t kill rats but let us put into consideration their role in the ecosystem,’’ the consultant said.
According to Oshaniwa, the changes in the environment were the major contributions to the increased cases of the endemic.
“With the changes in our environment in terms of the dryness because of the Harmattan season, there is food scarcity because foods are produced in limited quantity during this season.
“Most of the rats in the wild are finding their way into the household and since there is no electricity, people are not preserving their foods properly.
So, we cannot say that there is one cause of Lassa fever because there are multiple causes of the spread of the disease.
“They have been there but with the issue of food scarcity, dryness, everybody is scrambling for food and so are the rats,’’ the environmentalist said.
He advised Nigerians to keep the environment clean and to cover their foods.
“Every year we record cases of deaths.
“The question we should ask as professionals is: when do we record these deaths in the year.
“This will guide us to know when and how to take precautionary steps to reduce the effects,’’ he said.
Oshaniwa also warned people who indulge in canned drinks, saying that the top of the can and other foods should be washed properly before drinking from it.