Australia orders probe into mouse plague
Apr 30 11:38 PM US/Eastern
Australia ordered an investigation into a nursing home where elderly and be...
Swarming Plague of Mice Gnaws on Elderly Australian Nursing Home Patients
Australia ordered an investigation into a nursing home where elderly and bed-ridden residents were gnawed by a swarming plague of mice.
An 89-year-old war veteran was found bleeding from bites to his ears, neck, head and hands after being attacked by the mice as he lay in bed at the facility in the northeastern state of Queensland.
The old man was so distressed that doctors had to sedate him with morphine, said Ray Hopper, the local member of parliament.
"The top of his ears were severely chewed and he had bites to his head and neck," Hopper told the Australian Associated Press.
"His hands were covered in blood because he was trying to get the mice off him. We are talking about a health facility overrun by vermin. It's atrocious," he added.
Ageing Minister Justine Elliot said she understood there had been a second attack, and had asked accreditation authorities to investigate the staff response to the rodent plague.
"My immediate concern remains for the health, safety and well-being of residents living in the home," Elliot said in a statement.
"These reports are extremely disturbing and traumatic for residents and their families."
If health and safety standards at the 80-bed home were deemed inadequate, Elliot said she would make "no apologies" for shutting it down.
Queensland Health spokesman Stewart Gordon said authorities were doing everything in their power to get rid of the mice, including boosting nursing staff numbers and increasing cleaning staff.
The home, Karingal, is home to 70 high-dependency residents, including 22 who are over 90 years old.
Nurses at the home are horrified by the mouse infestation and believe the home should be shut down if authorities cannot contain the rodents, a nurses' union official said.
"The nurses certainly feel devastated," said Queensland Nurses Union secretary Gay Hawksworth, adding that additional staff had been rostered to ensure proper cleaning and protection of residents.
"If they can't contain the plague, then the next step would be to close the place down," she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.