Mr. Ugbomoiko said studies in Edo communities identified eight species of parasites from different species of rats.
Rats are natural reservoirs for more than 60 deadly parasitic and viral diseases harmful to man, Uade Ugbomoiko, a zoologist with the University of Ilorin said on Wednesday.
Mr. Ugbomoiko said in Ilorin that a parasite called “Mastdomys natalensis” is the reservoir host of Lassa fever, a disease which he recalled, recently claimed several lives in Ekpoma town and its environs in Edo State.
He said studies carried out in some rural communities in Edo identified eight species of parasites from different species of rats. He said the occurrence of parasites and their hosts were influenced by seasonal rainfall.
He urged Nigerians to always sanitise their houses and surroundings against rats, adding that the rodents were more prevalent in human habitation during the dry season.
Rats, he observed, invade houses in search of food because of bush burning and returned to the bush during the rainy season.
The zoologist identified socio-economic and environmental indices such as poverty, illiteracy, social deprivation and poor sanitary conditions, among others, as factors that could lead to the transmission of a parasite.
“Improving the health of Nigerians from parasitic attacks should be ensured through the provision of basic needs of the people by the government,’’ he said.