By Kemi Olatunde
In order to prevent the scourge of Lassa fever in Ondo State, the state government has banned sun-drying or spreading of food stuffs, especially gari along road.
To this effect, any food items found in this manner will be confiscated and destroyed by a taskforce soon to be put in place.
National Centre for Disease Control, NCDC in its latest rating said 73 percent of all confirmed Lassa fever cases were reported from three states; Ondo, Edo, and Bauchi, while 27 percent were reported from 25 states with confirmed Lassa fever cases.
It also said of the 73 percent confirmed cases, Ondo reported 33 percent Edo 29 percent and Bauchi 11 percent.
The State Commissioner for Health, Dr. Banji Awolowo Ajaka who disclosed the new measures while speaking with The Hope in Akure, he explained that it is important that food items are properly processed in order not to expose consumers to diseases.
Speaking extensively on Lassa fever, Ajaka described it as a seasonal occurrence which he attributed to the activities of both man and vector during the dry season including bush burning which according to him encourages rats to escape to homes for cover.
He revealed that Ondo State has the capacity to test for the fever which according to him has enabled the state account for the accurate number of cases in the state.
He said; “If some states are not testing, they will think they are Lassa free. Ondo State has the greatest capacity to test and that is why we discover to the last number and it is the best way to go. This is why we have the highest number of cases according to the Centre for Disease Control last week.
“From January till now we continue to search for cases as we have had support from government unlike in the past where our activities used to end in May due to the rains and lack of support.”
He noted that there have been two rounds of rat campaigns in 2023 stating that both Federal, State Government and a private organization have engaged in deratification exercise.
The commissioner explained that government has put in place several other measures including ongoing case treatment, engagement with garri processors and sellers, engagement with the State Waste Management Authority as well as the priotising sample collection from the southern Senatorial District of the state among others to prevent its spread in the state.
Describing it as an epidemic which has refused to go away, he however assured of government support in nipping it in the bud.
He stressed the need for the development of vaccine to vaccinate the populace adding that test kits would be distributed all over the state.