Dr Andy Ukah
Lassa fever prevention by Dr Andy Ukah

Environmental Health Officers Registration Council of Nigeria (EHORECON) has advised Nigerians to desist from consuming soaked garri so as to avoid Lassa fever infection.

The council also stressed the need for Nigerians to practise good personal hygiene and environmental sanitation.

Dr Andy Ukah, the Director, Department of Registration, Ethics and Standard Enforcement, gave the advice in Abuja on Thursday.

He said, “Avoid chewing garri and drinking it at this time because those things are easily contaminated.

“Some people spread their food on the road and the highway and you discover that rats can come from the bush and contaminate it.

“But if you must drink garri this hot season you need to roast it again, make it hot and cool it before you drink it. Do not expose your food items to rats.

“In your kitchen or where you are selling food, you must wash your plates always especially those that have stayed overnight.

“You wash and rinse the spoons, plates and pots especially with hot water. Water is a great disinfectant once you boil it at 100 per cent.

“Again, look at suya (roasted meat) they just roast it very hot but the pepper they are going to use you do not know its contact with the rat’s faeces or urine.

“I will advise when you are going you can use your own plate or food flask and when you get back and are in doubt, you make it hot again.

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“When you handle your food and you are not sure of the food or its source you throw it away.

“Avoid eating food that is within 5 degree centigrade and 60 degree centigrade because that is when any microorganism grows well within that range.

“ So, if you must eat food either outside or inside the house which you do not know much about the source you should allow it to be from 65 to 75 per cent.”

Ukah said the council was not resting on its oars in ensuring Lassa fever is kept at bay by sensitising the public on proper environmental sanitation and personal hygiene and impacting knowledge of the diseases.

He said the council had been to a number of communities in Bauchi, Kano, Yobe, Kaduna, Enugu and  Ebonyi states on sensitisation campaigns so far, adding that the team was on its way to Lagos and Oyo states.

“Waste management that will attract the rat, we make sure we teach the people how to manage their waste, put it in covered containers so the rats don’t have access.

“Food sanitation, when the food is contaminated like garri through the faeces, urine, saliva of the rat, we teach them how to protect that food.

“We carry out premises inspection and Environmental surveillance.

“We educate the people, that is where we sensitise them to the causes and symptoms of Lassa fever, the attitude and practice they are supposed to put up.

“We teach them sanitation and hygiene and how to protect their water and also how to manage air because they can also get it through that.

“ When it comes to personal hygiene, we are teaching people how to wash their hands always.

“Then, wearing of nose and mouth mask because it is airborne, especially for people trading in the market.

“As well as cutting your nails because if you have long nails you discover that many pathogenic germs or microorganisms maybe there.

“We discourage people when cooking for the public or cooking for themselves not to wear artificial nails because they can harbour both local and foreign microorganism,” he said.

He added that the members of the public were also taught pest control, how to control the rats either by excluding them from buildings or introducing predators like cats and how to carefully handle the rats.

The director said there would be a sensitisation outreach to Wuse Market, Jabi Motor Park and Kuchingoro Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Camp in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on Saturday.

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