Lassa: Benue raise alarm over importation of live rats by traders - NEWS FRONTIER DAILY


Monday, November 27, 2023

Lassa: Benue raise alarm over importation of live rats by traders

Benue State government has raised concern over the importation of live rats into the state by individuals warning that those behind the trade are exposing the people of the state to Lassa fever outbreak. 

The State Epidemiologist, Dr. Terungwa Ngishe expressed the worry Monday while speaking at a one day Sensitisation Engagement on Antimicrobial Resistance, AMR, and the need for behavioral change, organised in Makurdi by the Benue State office of One Health. 

Dr. Ngishe pointed out that people importing rats into the state were taking advantage of the fact that rat was a delicacy in the state while it was not being eaten in some other parts of the northern states where they are freely caught and brought into Benue thereby exposing the people to the outbreak of Lassa fever since the traders would not be able to differentiate the species of rats that carry the virus. 

He said: "Live rats are being imported into Benue state, people bring the rats in sacks. And it will surprise you to know that these rats are coming from others states like Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi and other states into Benue. 

"Now the question you are going to ask is that if these states record outbreak of Lassa where do we say they got it from? We all know that it's obviously from the rats specie known as multimammate rat that carry Lassa. 

"That is why now we need to generate change in that area otherwise people are coming into the state with rats and peradventure they might bring to the state the rats that are exposed to the virus. 

"We are actually particularly concerned about Benue state in the context of Lassa because already rat is a delicacy amongst the people of Benue. 

"And the ongoing work we have done so far has shown that beyond the specie of rat that we know that carry the virus other species of rat have been dictated as carrying the virus. 

"Now with the importation, you are brining in additional burden to the state and what happens in the long run. And year on we have an increase in the cases of Lassa fever in the state. 

"So this development calls for increased surveillance in border communities to check this importation given the danger and threat it poses to the health of the people in the event of Lassa outbreak."

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