A Medical practitioner, Dr. Ajayi Abass, on Friday advised residents to keep cats at homes to checkmate rats and guard against the spread of Lassa fever.
Abass, the Assistant Secretary-General, National Association of Resident Doctors (NARD), Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital (ABUTH), Shika, gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna.
According to the doctor, keeping cats at home will help residents to drive away rats, carriers of the Lassa fever virus.
“I advise we start keeping cats in our houses and maintain good hygiene, to reduce rats and Lassa fever cases.
“The Lassa virus is transmitted to humans via contact with food or household items, contaminated with rodent urine or feces.
“Cats are wonderful companions for a variety of reasons and have strong hunting instincts.
“They love chasing off rats and they’re soft, cute and independent; and they have vivid personalities, the perfect pet for just about any household.
“If we start keeping them in our houses, it will keep them alert by chasing rats away, and our food will be secured,” the medical doctor said.
According to him, humans contact the disease through direct contact with the blood, urine, feces, or other bodily secretions of a person infected with Lassa fever.
Abass also advised residents to wash their hands regularly, store food in covered containers, and improve their hygiene, to discourage rats from entering their houses.
He said the disease occurred in all age groups and both sexes, adding that persons at greatest risk were those living in rural areas where Mastomys are usually found, especially in communities with poor sanitation or crowded living conditions.
“Health workers are also at risk when caring for Lassa fever patients in the absence of proper barrier, nursing and infection prevention, and control practices.”
According to him, Lassa fever, also known as Lassa Hemorrhagic Fever (LHF), is a type of viral hemorrhagic fever caused by Lassa virus and occurs typically in West Africa.
He listed fever, weakness, headaches, vomiting, sore throat, chest and muscle pains as signs and symptoms of the disease.
“In severe cases, bleeding occurs from the mouth, nose, vagina or gastrointestinal tract,” Abass said.