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[Photo credit:] Introduction: It still sounds like a tale, or at best a challenge of a distant land but not our own country, Nigeria. Yet, the news (January, 2016) insists that Lassa fever is now spread across several states of the country. Definition: The Lassa fever is a viral hemorrhagic fever that causes high temperatures and bleeding in infected people. The virus is transmitted to humans via objects and food contaminated with the virus, or direct contact with the feces and urine of an infected rat. It can also be transmitted person-to-person through contact with secretions and excretions of someone who is infected. My thoughts: For Nigeria, this has become a war. A war which must be won by humans. The proponents of ‘Lassa fever’ (Mastomys natalensis aka natal multimammate {female} rat) must be evacuated and repatriated from our land; and ‘Lassa fever’ annihilated and eradicated. So far, suggested precautionary measures include- Proper storage of food in sealed or covered containers Avoidance of food sun-dried e.g. garri Environmental sanitation Response of citizens on social media to the above measures are varied. Many embrace the practicality of idea ‘a’, out rightly protest idea ‘b’ as being ludicrous (see details in paragraph on sundried food), and are indifferent to idea ‘c’; after all, we did survive the seemingly scarier ‘Ebola virus’, didn’t we? About Ground-level Sundried food (in particular, garri aka Cassaflakes)- I agree that the erstwhile systems of producing garri locally which exposes same to ‘Lassa fever’ infiltration through the rat trespassers, should be improved. Perhaps, public-private partnerships and local producers could consider the use of easily crafted elevated platforms with rat-proof base for drying garri and other food items. Other innovative media can be procured to ensure that the food items preserved; and innumerable businesses (of farmers, traders, among others) are saved. Seeing as our political and social-economic structures birth many Nigerians with wooden batons (used for making eba); it would be unnatural to ignore the outcry of the many for the preservation of this food source. This, at best, would only lead to loss of more lives. Environmental Sanitation- This singular measure if implemented would create effective ripples to win the war, and ensure human domination over Lassa fever’s proponents. Frequent cleaning out of gutters, ditches, canals, as well as packaging and disposing waste properly, would foster fewer viable rodent habitations in our environment. This in turn leads to near extinction of rats, reduction of particles in the air contaminated with rat excretions, and in the long run fewer rat pilgrimages to locales where food is sundried. In addition to the measures above, please spread the word anyway you can. The rat that visits that local buka where you have lunch could be a vector. Why not share these ideas with the buka manager, cook, waiters and others? Use social media- get the hash tags out. You and I should actively monitor waste disposal in our environment- we can correct politely, educate rightly, and give good examples. Conclusion: Hmmm? We conclude when the victory is ours. For now, we should prescribe ‘Change for the better’ as our motto. To act indifferent in the face of this challenge, would negatively impact our economy, and also cause needless loss of lives. Proper maintenance of the environment habituated and non-habituated) within Nigeria’s jurisdiction would give us all a Lassa fever free citizenry.   About the Author: Aizighode Obinyan is a legal practitioner and budding writer. She is interested in social re-engineering for Man

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This article was first published on 28th January 2016 and updated on February 25th, 2016 at 3:13 pm

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