Whenever I hear the news of Lassa fever, Corona fever, Ebola fever or Dengue fever on the news these days my thoughts hurry back to the plague or bubonic plague which wiped out more than half of the population of Europe about 700 years ago. Of them all, I fear the plague, because it may kill within about five days of getting hold of its victim. Very frightening to me is the fact that a fever which wiped out more than half of a continent’s population was facilitated by rats…and, in Nigeria,we have lots of rats which freely live with us in our bedrooms, and, of all places, our kitchens which ought to be out of bounds to them, As if they are bonafide members of our households.
Before I proceed, let me tell you of one of my experiences with rats in my house. I live in a corner piece house near a congregation of dust bins where these rats scavenge waste food. During the rain season, they abandon their habitat and find their ways indoor. The ceiling of the house is projected in front and suspended by four long pillars in cement cast. For years, I heard rumbles in the ceiling and didn’t quite know how they got there. And they became so emboldened that they moved freely everywhere in the rooms, including the sitting room, even in daylight. I did not wish to resort to pesticides for human health reasons, so I tiled the pillars from bottom to top. The rats must have been disappointed, because they could not climb the vitrified tiles, and switched on their creativity genes. They ate through aluminum mosquito proof nets on the windows and trooped inside, to continue their funfair. I killed as many as I could with rat poisons and doubled all the nets. Again, they came and ate through two layers of nets. This time, I declared full scale war on them. I obtained fish offal’s which I mixed with liver damaging rat poison and I distributed to many locations…bedrooms, toilets, stairway, store, kitchen, dining and sitting rooms and in strategic places in the premises. I almost fled the house three days after when the odour of their carcasses began to fill the house. I had to buy perfumes which I kept in almost every room as not all of their bodies could be readily found. The rains are gone now and I have some peace. But I am not fooled. The rain will come again…and a new generation of them will come again. So, I have decided to run a coach work of vitrified tile round the entire building running directly under window level on the ground floor!
My response to the challenge of invading rats made me appreciate what the Chinese may have gone through before, a few decades ago, their government declared a national war on rats in human habitations, offering cash gifts to whoever could kill a certain number of these dangerous rodents. To understand why the Chinese government went this far, we need to understand what rats from China did to Europe, imagine what havoc they may still be wreaking in China, and ask ourselves in Nigeria why we are not doing much, if anything at all, to keep them at Bay.
WIKIPEDIA tells us:
“The black death, also known as The Pestilence (pest, for short) The great plague or the plague or less commonly the black plague was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history resulting in the deaths of an estimated 75 to 200 million people in Eurasia, peaking in Europe from 1347 to 1351. The bacterium Yersinia pestis which results in several forms of plague (septicemic, pneumonic, bubonic,) is believed to have been the cause . The black death was the first European outbreak of plague and the second plague epidemic. The plague created a number of religious,social and economic upheavals with profound effect on the course of European history.
“The black death is thought to have been in the dry plains of Central Asia or east Asia where it traded along the silk road, reaching Crimea by 1343. From there, it was most likely carried by fleas living on the black rats that traveled on all merchant ships, spreading throughout the Mediterranean basin and Europe.
” The black death is estimated to have killed 30 to 60 percent of Europe’s population. In total, the plague may have reduced the world population from an estimated 475million to 350-375 million in the 14th century. It took 200 years for the world population to recover to its previous level. The plague recurred as outbreaks in Europe until the 19th century.”
Imagine about 100 million deaths in Europe over four years caused by…rats and the fleas which feast on them, and imagine the millions of rats which live with us in Nigeria everyday. You have to be something not man to not be moved by stories of the plague, which I suggest you check on-line. I shivered when I read of how whole towns moved, the refugees fleeing as if artillery bombardments during a war, whenever an attack broke out in a part of town. Mother’s abandoned sick children and fled . Husbands fled from afflicted wives. Town after town were sacked. Mass graves were dug. Scavenging dogs and pigs dug up bodies to eat and vultures had a field day filling up their stomachs. Europe lay prostrate.
I learned about the plague in 1968 from “O”level Health Science (Physiology and hygiene) which compelled the student to learn seven communicable diseases…malaria, fever, typhoid fever, bubonic fever (the plague), small pox, measles and cholera. They are still dangerous in Nigeria.
Last Saturday, Kemi Asekun, presenter of the Yewande Iworha Good health programme on Ray power radio station in Lagos, reminded us of the havocs Lassa fever was wreaking in about seven Nigerian States. A listener who called in suggested that those States be locked down. Dr Ugochukwu Unogo, who answered questions from Kemi Asekun and the listeners, echoed the warning of another doctor at another forum that cassava grains, made by roasting cassava gruel to dehydrate it, may cause Lassa fever. Everyone was startled because drinking garri is popular among children and adults. The grains are soaked in water and sweetened or drunk with groundnuts or coconut chips or some other accompaniment which gives the teeth some crunching job to do. Dr Unogo explained that rats infected with Lassa fever- causing virus may infect garri storages in homes or at the open market, thereby infesting this popular foodstuff with the virus which causes Lassa fever.One caller disputed this, saying he grew up in environments where feaces of rats were picked from garri before it was soaked for drinking or made into eba by running boiling water over it or cooking it in a pot. Dr Unogo said cooking may kill the virus but cold water would not. In every case, his answer suggested the feaces the caller described may not belong to those tiny and fast moving rats which cause this trouble, but to another specie which did not bear the virus as vectors. Someone suggested that cats around the house may consume rats and reduce the risk of infections. Someone else suggested that cats were considered psychically manipulable by witches. This is not why I’m scared about them as a standing army against rats. I once reared two cats and got my guard dog to be friends and to eat from the same bowl. I no longer have nothing to do with cats because of the diseases they can cause, which number more than ten. Some of these are…
Plasma gondii or toxo is the name of a parasite in the stool of cats which feed on birds and mice. In rare cases, infected humans may develop brain abscesses and blindness, behavioural changes and psychosis.
CAT SCRATCH FEVER
Cats like to lick open human wounds. But their saliva contains a dangerous bacterium. Even when they scratch a person’s skin deep enough to transmit the bacterium, an infection may develop which causes swelling, redness, fever, appetite loss, headaches or exhaustion.
This, too, comes from contamination with cat feaces. The symptoms may include intestinal disturbances and fever
This is a common parasite in human intestine which may be picked up from cat feaces. Cats can also pass on worms , scabies, tape worm, salmonella and in rare cases, rabies.
From the foregoing cases made against the cat, it is unlikely to be the ideal warrior Nigeria may need against its tormenting rats whose population, man to rat, outnumber the Nigerian human population. Therefore, a public campaign of killing rats with rat poisons and properly disposing of their carcases may be a better option. Indoor, food items would have to be kept in Safe enclosures. This applies, also, to cutlery, plates and cups. Fruits, like vegetable procured from the open markets, would have to be soaked in salt water or vinegar solution for about thirty minutes to kill all germs. In homes which can afford it, the sairui energy water bottle may be of help. When water is stored in it, shaken and sprayed on infected food, such as smelly fish, it is said to kill offending germs, deodorizes the food and make it fit for eating. Rats may run over canned drinks in homes or shops. So, the tops of cans which come in contact with the lips and mouth would have to be washed or rinsed before a can is opened.
Dr Unogo advised that, before garri is soaked in water and drunk, it should be fried in a pot to kill any germs it may contain. This is not a bad idea from an experience or two I had in the kitchen. Once I soaked and washed rice to cook only to discover I no longer needed to cook. So, I tipped the water off and literally dry fried the rice back to normal farm fresh grains!
Ebola fever is associated with the Democratic republic of the Congo. We fear it in Nigeria. Likewise, the rest of the world fears Lassa fever which appears to have its home in West Africa and make Nigeria its headquarters. In Nigeria, it forcefully reminds us of its existence between December and March every year. In its devastation, LASSA fever is similar to Ebola and dengue fever, which is caused by a mosquito in Asia. All three fevers destroy blood vessels throughout the body , causing bleeding from everywhere imaginable and unimaginable(hemorrhaging). When the molecule of the virus was carbon dated, it was discovered to have been around in Nigeria for about 1,000 years.
When a person is infected with the virus, it may take between six and twenty one days for the symptoms to appear.
LASSA FEVER SYMPTOMS
The presentation is like that of most fevers at the onset. From a fever, general weakness may ensue, grow into a malaise which may graduate into headaches, sore throat, muscle pain, chest pain, nausea, vommitting, diarrhea, cough and abdominal pain, according to many medical authorities.
POSSIBLE NATURAL REMEDIES
We cannot do away with foods and herbs which build and maintain the immune system and in this case, especially the anti viral herbs. Our first recourse should be the recipe of four thieves who survived the bubonic plague. As millions of people were dying or fleeing their homes, these four thieves broke into deserted homes, picked money from the pockets of dying people or of corpses, especially the rich, without being infected by whatever was causing the devastation. When they were brought before a judge for ransacking homes, he promised to not send them to jail if they divulged their safety secret. They did. It was the concoction of herbs, the mother of one of them , a herbalist, gave to them to drink and to sanitise their hands and bodies with before and after their escapades. No one is now sure exactly what these herbs were as oral history has produced many variations of them. But there are recurring decimals in these stories. What is thought to be the original formula was said to have been posted or hung in the museum of Paris in 1937. It was thought to be a copy of that on the walls of Marseilles during a crisis of the plague.
“Take three pints of strong white wine vinegar, add a handful of each of wormwood, meadowsweet, wildmarjoram and safe, 50 cloves, two ounces of campanura root, two ounces of angelic Rosemary and horehound and three large measures of camphor. Place the mixture in a container for fifteen days, strain and express, then bottle. Use by rubbing it on the hands, ears and temples from time to time when approaching a plague victim”.
It has been suggested that the concoction has natural flea repellant and that this made it impossible for fleas to come near or to bite. Modern day versions of this recipe mention “sage, lavendar, thyme, Rosemary and garlic , rue, mint and wormwood”. In some herb shops in France today, this recipe is still sold as THE FOUR THIEVES VINEGAR. To these we may add anti viral herbs of choice, as well as anti-haemorrhaging herbs. Immune boosters are important , too”.
The list is endless. Among the stars are golden seal root, oregano , sage, fennel, garlic, basil, lemon Balm , echinacea , peppermint, Rosemary , licorice, ginger, ginseng, astragalus
ANTI HAEMORRHAGING HERBS
One of the commonest here is pawpaw (papaya) leaves. It helps out in dengue fever by stimulating the production of platelets, cells which stop bleeding. It also offers a full spectrum of digestive enzymes for proteins, carbohydrates and fats. The papain chemical digests all proteins not produced by the body. This is why it digests germs as well. As for the viruses in the family of germs, it breaks their cellular wall, thereby killing them. When enzymes are not taken along with food but on empty stomach, they are not used for the digestion of food but passed on to the immune system for counter -insurgency activities against foreign Invaders.
Nimosa PUDICA or sensitive plant is a good astringent herb for stopping bleeding. So are blue cohosh, yarrow, motherwort and alfalfa which is rich in vitamin k, a blood coagulant.
Cannot be ignored.It is a versatile herb which finds use in almost all health discomfeitures throughout Africa.It stops the bleeding of wounds , bleeding in the lungs and is even created with stopping bleeding from a severed artery. We should not underate Shepherd’s purse which inhibits bleeding throughout the body. Ditto red Marine algae, now used in many cases of viral infections.
Any outbreak from China deserves more than passing attention because of the devastation of the plague. Corona virus is a member of the Corona viruses which have been on the prowl in Chinese cities. Like the other ones, this Corona virus is thought to come from animals, specifically the bat or the snake. It induces respiratory system damage and should be contained by respiratory herbs, a well known family member of which is garlic. On the market in Nigeria are many garlic proprietary blends including kyolic aged garlic. The habit of eating garlic with all meals should be encouraged, therefore. To appreciate the beauty of garlic as a lung herb, the essential oil may be rubbed on the foot.In about an hour, it emerges in the breath. Other respiratory herbs which may help out in viral pneumonia caused by this new Corona virus are catnip, echinacea root leaves and flower, wild cherry bark, licorice root, mullein an expectorant. Red clover blossoms help with the cleansing of the lymphatic system. Astragalus root features in both respiratory and immunity functions. Then there is the mushroom family in which the red reishi is a valued herb. The last on my list today, but by no means the least is CBD oil.
LAST WORD ON LASSA FEVER
It should remind us of the abnormally large presence of rats around us, and of the health , if not death havocs, they can cause. We only need to remember that they brought death to more than half of the population of Europe to realise that, with weakened immunity from poor nutrition and all sort of stressors in a modern society, immunity of the average Nigerians it may not withstand a faceoff with rats. It is important, therefore to make our food our medicine, and our medicine…our food. So, herbs should be taken with every meal.