Residents of Mararaba and New Nyanya, suburbs in Nasarawa State, have called on the Federal Government and relevant authorities, to create adequate awareness for citizens on dangers of bush meat consumption.
There have been a recent deadly Lassa Fever outbreak across some parts of the country, with relevant authorities issuing health advisories.
Some residents of New Nyanya, expressed worry over the continuous patronage of bush meat in bars and local eateries, popularly known as “Joints”, in spite of warnings of Lassa Fever outbreak.
According to them, many people are not aware of the epidemic and are ignorant of the dangers, noting that a sensitisation programme will go a long way in enlightening Nigerians on the disease.
One of the residents, Mr Ben Chibuike, a businessman, said that creating awareness about Lassa Fever would help in reducing cases, because the country had recorded a number of fatalities from the disease.
Chibuike said many people were not aware of the dangers associated with eating bush meat, mainly rats, the main channel of transmitting Lassa Fever infection, because of inadequate information.
“Relevant health agencies should create more awareness to avoid any further spread of the disease, even when it has spread in some states, including Nasarawa. I urge people to take precaution and try to be neat to avoid rats in their environment,” Chibuike said.
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Mrs Victoria Simeon, a housewife, said she was not aware of the disease because no such case had been reported in her area.
Mrs Chioma Eze, a healthcare giver, however, said reports of Lassa Fever outbreak had been widely spread across many media outlets such as television, radio and others, but some Nigerians would not take precautions.
Eze noted that there were some tribes that could not do without eating bush meat even ‘house rats’, noting that this was contributing largely to the upscale of the disease.
“Several times, I personally advised a woman from a particular tribe to stop eating ‘rats’ not even ‘bush rats’, but she refused to take my advice. She clearly told me that, they cannot do without eating ‘house rats’ or bush meat in their place.
“She told me to stop advising her because it is a waste of time. Hygiene is the paramount thing in this case, Nigerians should try to keep their homes and environments neat to avoid rats, because dirty environments attract rats,” she said.
Mr Abel Oni, a customer at one of the bush meat joints, told NAN that he would not deny the fact that Lassa Fever was real, but such would not stop him from patronising bush bars.
Oni, however, admitted that he was aware of Lassa Fever outbreak as he heard on radio and television.
“Reports of Lassa Fever will not stop me from visiting joints, because I derive pleasure in visiting a beer parlour. I feel so happy and relieved whenever I visit one and hardly think of any problem.
“Anytime I am in a beer parlour chilling with a cold beer and bush meat pepper soup, I always forget about my sorrows and pains. Lassa Fever cannot stop me from visiting beer parlours, especially when it has become my place of relaxation,” he said.
However, Mr John Garba, a beer parlour operator, said that Lassa Fever could spread if adequate hygiene measures were not put into consideration when preparing the bush meat.
Garba said that those running such businesses should not be ignorant of the disease, but try to maintain good food standards and hygienic environment.
“It is not a beer parlour thing, but it is all about hygiene, because the place and the way one preserves their food matters a lot. Preparing bush meat pepper soup has to be done properly to avoid any transmission of infection from the animals,” Garba said.
A NAN correspondent who visited some ‘joints’, especially those selling roasted bush meats and pepper soup along Abuja-Keffi road, customers were seen eating their usual delicacies without any fears or reservations.
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