By Gabriel Ewepu
ABUJA- THE Veterinary Council of Nigeria, VCN, has urged poultry farm owners to put in place preventive measures to stop any form of penetration of the multi-mammate rat (Mastomys natalensis) , carrier of the deadly Lassa fever virus into their farms.
Registrar, VCN, Dr. Markus Avong, said poultry farm owners should put in place rat-proofs to curb the movement of the rats.
Avong said: “The primary host of the Lassa virus is the multi-mammate rat, and has no clinical manifestation but transfers the virus to humans who are the next and final hosts.
“The owners of poultry farms should be extremely careful with their farms by putting measures that will prevent the rats from gaining entrance and access to their poultry feeds.
“This is because the rats are now moving to where humans are and also to animal farms where feeds are kept for the livestock because there is bush burning going on this season in most places across the country, which they are losing their food as the bushes serves as source of their food, and as a result tends to move towards places where they could access food and that could be in the poultry farms.
“Farm owners should be conscious and put in place rat-proofs around the farm.”
He also allayed fears of Nigerians on contacting the virus from poultry products.
“Nigerians should not panic about the virus getting to chickens and other poultry products because birds in the farm do not walk freely for food, but rather it is humans who are at risk.
“Those who are working there takes the feed from the bag and take it to where the birds are, while doing that could come in contact with the faecal material dropped by the rats where the virus is and if not detected will bring down the person. The transmission of the virus is basically between the rat and human and not among animals”, Avong said.