To effectively combat the scourge of Lassa fever, which is caused by a virus borne by rodents,the Pest Control Association of Nigeria has called for active control of rodents.
According to President of the association, Mr. Ayo Ogunyadeka, rodent control will best be conducted using an integrated pest management approach that included both chemical and non-chemical methods.
“The IPM is a long-term sustainable system of rodent control, which includes their exclusion or keeping them out, restriction, monitoring and destruction,”
“Households should take care to inspect incoming materials for rodent excreta or any sign of gnawing and chewing on the containers; mice can nest inside pallets of goods received. Ensure good structural integrity and barriers; avoid holes in the building and in homes; while proof doors with brush strips, wire mesh over windows and ventilator grilles should be in place and trap drains,he said,
“Don’t let the rodents thrive and maintain excellent housekeeping. The immediate surroundings of the home perimeter should be clear of overgrown vegetation, rubbish, disused equipment and pallets, as these can offer potential living sites.”
Ogunyadeka also cautioned against indiscriminate use of rodenticides or rat poisons as the only rodent control measure in buildings and offices, especially in the wake of the Lassa fever outbreak.
“PECAN anticipates that many Nigerians will rush to procure rodenticides, which are brazenly displayed in roadsides and shops by quacks as the fear of a Lassa fever epidemic spreads across the country. These toxic materials must be used with care,” he said.
According to him, all rodenticides can be toxic when eaten, while most are also toxic when inhaled and when they come into contact with the skin.
“Rodents, humans, dogs and cats are all mammals; so, our bodies work in very similar ways. Rodenticides have the same deadly effect when ingested by mammals, which include human beings, especially children and wards, and pets. Other domestic animals such as birds and poultry may be exposed to high secondary rodenticide poisoning as well,” he said.
Dr. Kehinde Kemabonta of the Department of Zoology, Faculty of Science, University of Lagos, said people should endeavour to empty refuse bins, which could serve as natural habitat for rodents.
“They should be free of holes, covered, placed on cement and emptied regularly,” she said.