LASSA RATS and EBOLA BATS – Victims or Villains?
In the wake of the recent outbreak of Lassa fever epidemic in Nigeria, it has become necessary to really look into the real cause of deaths. In the end we may choose to either vilify the bats and rats or learn from them and thank God for having chosen the ‘foolish things’ of this world to confound the wise.
Viral haemorrhagic fevers from Ebola or Lassa share some clinical features e.g. bleeding. Both viral infections cause death. According to Dr. Rath ( 2014), a viral hemorrhagic fever means that the virus is affecting the vascular system in a way that causes leakages, leading gradually to, and ultimately massive blood loss and death.
In both the Ebola and Lassa, not all infected animals die. The fruit bats don’t die nor do the rats in the case of Lassa. In the Ebola case, there are other infected animals that don’t die from it, these include antelopes and porcupines. WHO call these, ‘protected’ hosts. They are ‘protected’ because though they are carriers they cannot be affected by the virus. WHY?
The simple reason according to research findings is that most animals synthesize large amounts of their own vitamin C in their bodies. Humans do not synthesize vitamin C and must have it through the diet. Vitamin C is known to be among the most powerful antiviral agents in nature and is able to prevent the terrible aftermath of the Ebola virus. Like humans the fruit bat does not synthesize vitamin C but, it feeds predominantly on fruits.
Rats and mice, including the LASSA rat synthesise vitamin C. It should not be surprising therefore that the rats, like the fruit bats can carry the Lassa virus for years and never be affected by it. The significance of this explanation is that the Ebola and Lassa disease are much like the sailors disease, scurvy. In scurvy, the effect of vitamin C and other micronutrients played a big part in strengthening and improving the immune system and lives were saved.
Every year about this season in Nigeria, the rats invade and spread the virus. The virus kills people whose immune system may have been weakened by malnutrition over time. With the level of poverty in the country it is not surprising that more deaths are recorded now than in the previous outbreaks. Preventing an outbreak through rat extinction is highly unlikely. To prevent death in another outbreak we should focus on preventing malnutrition in Nigeria.
These rats and bats are survivors who have become victims of medical opinion. They are not villains. They are creatures going about their business, eating what their creator programmed them to eat to resist disease. Remember bats eat fruits, rats eat our yam peels and other foods we throw out. They eat sugar carton and other cartons. Do they they eat the cornflakes or the sugar or flour or the anemic looking bread? Not really. We should therefore learn from them and eat nutrient dense foods that will boost our immune system.
Eating healthy, nutrient dense foods may require a bit of creativity. Forget the numbers behind the calories for once and focus on the colours. Add more greens, yellows, pinks and browns to your breakfast, lunch, dinner and all snacks. Garri is better than cornflakes or white bread any day. Drink water not soft drinks.