Nigerian lawmaker’s answer to Lassa Fever outbreak: Breed more cats

Nigerian senator Shehu Sani, this week, moved a motion in parliament that the Federal Ministry of Health should be encouraged to breed more cats.

Cats are known to feed on rats — vectors of the Lassa virus which causes Lassa fever. Introducing cats to kill these vectors would seem a smart biological control mechanism. But when cats are introduced, they won’t just kill rats, they will kill just about any animal that suits their taste buds, from birds to small mammals, reptiles and amphibians. But there is more to reducing the spread of Lassa fever than just killing rats.

More than 90 people have been infected since the outbreak of the fever began this month, killing 42 people. Concerned about the disease’s unusual mortality rate, Nigeria’s Senate heard a motion sponsored by members of the Senate Committee on Health, led by its Chairman, Senator Gbenga Tejuosho on the disease.

Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki urged relevant government agencies to intensify the general awareness on the Lassa Fever. He also urged the government to deploy health workers to areas affected by the disease so as to make adequate health care available.

“The Nigeria Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) should coordinate all responses to ensure compliance,” Saraki said.

“Every Nigerian should also continue our collective social health education, and communication activities to prevent the disease from spreading further,” Saraki said.