It has been known that rats sparked the ongoing Lassa fever outbreak that has affected over 23 states in Nigeria. Latest reports from the Nigeria Centre Disease Control (NCDC) showed that from January 1 to December 9, 2018, a total of 3276 suspected cases have been reported with 149 deaths. However it is worrisome that rats, which are found in every nook and cranny of this country, even in churches, are carriers and reservoirs of most deadly viral infections including Lassa fever, monkey pox, plague, typhoid fever, cowpox and hepatitis E.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) said, “There is no magic wand. The virus is in a rat. As long as people are not taking precautions, they will continue to get infected. To stop Lassa fever, we have to stop rats carrying the virus getting in contact with our foods.”
Indeed scientists have warned that rat-borne diseases are on the rise. Researchers warned that infectious diseases carried by rats might be a human health time bomb. Several studies have shown that rats carry nearly 70 diseases, but there were fears they could harbor many more. With a nearly four million rats born every day, the much-loathed rodents could spread more disease through towns and cities in developing nations including Nigeria.
Although rats have plagued city-dwellers and farmers for centuries, researchers have yet to find an efficient way to stop them spreading diseases or ruining crops.