There are palpable fears that Lassa fever and other related diseases might soon afflict many residents of Enugu state following the alleged invasion of Ogbette Main Market in Enugu metropolis by over ten million maggots and two thousands rats.
These worries are coming on the heels of the confirmation by the Nigerian Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) late Friday March 27, of two coronavirus cases in the state.
The Enugu state Government had earlier shut down primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the state, and some other public places as part of measures to keep the coronavirus pandemic at bay.
Summit News learnt that the state government’s decision to shut down Ogbette Main Market on midnight of March 31 might not be unconnected with the unhygienic condition of the facility as well as the compelling need to ensure the safety of lives in the state, especially as the state and country undergo the trauma associated with the coronavirus pandemic.
It was gathered that early last year, some officials of the state Ministries of Environment and Health, as well as the Enugu state Waste Management Authority (ESWAMA), met with principal officers of the Ogbette Main Market Traders Association, to find ways of decontaminating the market.
But while the traders were favourably disposed to fumigating the market, they however, rejected suggestions that traders will bear part of the bill for the exercise which runs into millions of naira.
This is despite the explanation by the state government delegation that both the traders, buyers and visitors to the market were at great risks of being afflicted with Lassa fever and other related diseases if the market was not fumigated.
The state government delegation explained that over ten million maggots had taken over the abattoir section of the market, while rats numbering over two thousand inhabited the stalls and shops in the market.
When contacted on telephone, the Caretaker Chairman, Ogbette Main Market Traders Association, Hon. John Okechukwu Eze, told Summit News that the market would be fumigated at a later date.
“We are working towards fumigating the market. You know that the market will be closed on Tuesday, and I believe it would be fumigated when we resume business,” he said.
According to medical experts, a “maggot is a larva of the common fly. Maggots have soft bodies and no legs, so they look a bit like worms.
“They usually have a reduced head that can retract into the body. Maggot commonly refers to larvae that live on rotting flesh or tissue debris of animal and plants. Some species eat healthy animal tissue and living plant matter.”
The experts say that “eating maggots or maggot-infested food can cause bacterial poisoning. Most foods that have maggots aren’t safe to eat, especially if the larvae have been in contact with feces.
“However, it may be safe to consume maggots themselves, but you may be susceptible to whatever they’ve eaten or been exposed to, such as feces or rotting flesh. Fruit infested with maggots is likely to be rotting and ridden with bacteria…”
Excreta passing through the market
On Lassa fever, the experts said “it is an acute viral disease carried by a type of rat that’s common in West Africa. It can be life threatening. It affects the liver, kidney or the spleen.
Rough estimates suggest that there are between 100,000 and 300,000 Lassa fever cases of Lassa fever each year in West Africa, and approximately, 5,000 deaths due to the disease.
The sanitary condition of Ogbette Main Market is said to have worsened following the alleged passage of excreta through the market.