Some students of Nigerian universities have expressed fear over rodent invasion as Lassa fever continues to wreak havoc in some parts of the country.
Lassa fever is an acute viral haemorrhagic illness, transmitted to humans through contact with food or household items contaminated by infected rodents.
Our correspondent gathered that students’ fear of Lassa fever seems to have increased, as many of their hostels harbour rats.
In separate interviews with our correspondent, they complained that rats not only competed with them in the hostels, but also ate their properties and made their lives what they called a living hell.
A 400-level Building student at the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Usman Manni, said, “The rats are just too many. They are in the ceilings, cupboards, wardrobes. A week ago, I woke up to the agony of urine dropping on my bed from a rodent located right in the ceiling above my bed. This affects other students as well. If you ask them, they will tell you they have had similar experiences.”
Also, a 200-level Sociology student of the Redeemer’s University, Ede, Osun State, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the current semester had not been rodent-free.
He said, “We are aware of the outbreak of Lassa fever and also aware that the main carriers are rats and people can also be infected by their body fluids and faeces. The rats run around the quadrangle as if it’s their playground and the ones that manage to get into the rooms eat up our provisions and clothes.”
Also, students of the University of Benin, Benin-City, are not spared of rodent infestation.
A 300-level undergraduate, who simply wants to be identified as Clinton, said it was common to see rodents running around the hostels, but what got him agitated was when he saw faeces of the unwanted visitors, through which Lassa fever is transmitted, among other ways.
At Babcock University, a 400-level Accounting student said that at the Neal Wilson Hall where he resided, rats paraded every part of the facility day and night.
He said, “Rats are everywhere and they seem to be reproducing every day in that room. They eat my provisions, food, clothes; in fact, they eat everything they see.”
Efforts to get in touch with authorities of the institutions proved abortive as of the time of filing this report – by 7pm on Tuesday.
However, the University of Benin, through its Public Relations Officer, Mr. Michael Osasuyi, said that although it was common knowledge that rats invaded hostels and lodges in many university communities, extra care was being taken by the UNIBEN authorities to prevent the creatures from gaining access into the lodges.
Osasuyi added, “There is a committee set up by the school authorities on Lassa fever awareness, and it organises awareness programmes to sensitise the campus community.”
Also, the Public Relations Officer of Covenant University, Mr Babalola Okubanjo, told our correspondent that the university’s level of environmental sanitation was very high, as it had since inception engaged not less than 100 people, known as Campus Keepers, who carry out sanitary jobs within and outside buildings.
He added that the structures were also periodically fumigated.