Household Rat Infestation and Methods of Its Control in a Lassa Fever Endemic Community in Southeast Nigeria
Background and Objectives: High rat burden and control methods may influence Lassa virus transmission in endemic communities. This
study was aimed at determining the prevalence of household rat infestation and its control methods in a Lassa fever endemic region, Southeast, Nigeria.
Materials and Methods: The study participants were caregivers who sought care in a tertiary health institution in Abakiliki (a Lassa fever endemic community) in Southeast, Nigeria. An interviewer‑administered structured questionnaire was used to collect information regarding the presence of rats in homes and methods of its control. The analysis was done using SPSS version 22. Multivariate Binary Logistic Regression was used to assess the predictors of the presence of rats in homes. The level of statistical significance was set at P < 0.05.
Results: Of the 384 participants, 316 reported the presence of rats in their homes, giving a household rats’ prevalence rate of 82.3%. The use of rat poison alone was the most common method of rat control in their homes. The odds of having a rat in their household was two times more in the lower socioeconomic class than in the upper socioeconomic class (odds ratio [OR] = 2.21, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.25–6.42, P = 0.010) and 4 times more among caregivers that did not store foodstuff in airtight containers (OR = 4.05, 95% CI: 1.38–8.30, P = 0.005).
Conclusion: The prevalence of household rats’ infestation was high and could postulate a high reservoir for the Lassa fever virus in the study locale. Improved food storage methods and environmental hygiene alongside the use of rat poison and trap by caregivers could reduce household rat infestation.
Keywords: Control, endemic, Lassa fever, rat