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Page last updated at 09:58 GMT, Friday, 1 May 2009 10:58 UK

Mice 'attack' elderly Australians

Local MP Ray Hopper and the victim's daughter Julie express their shock while Queensland Health promise action

The Australian government has ordered an investigation after mice repeatedly bit residents of a nursing home.

One man, a bedridden veteran aged 89, was found covered in blood after his ears, neck and throat were chewed by the mice. He had to be sedated later.

The incident at the home in Queensland state was "extremely disturbing", said Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot.

She said if health and safety practices at the 80-bed institution were found to be inadequate, it would be closed.

The fact that the blood-covered veteran was discovered by nursing staff on Anzac Day, when Australia remembers its fallen heroes, has only heightened the sense of outrage, says the BBC's Nick Bryant in Sydney.

Another man was reportedly bitten, but suffered no injuries.

Ms Elliot has asked accreditation authorities to investigate the staff response to the rodent plague.

Staff numbers have been increased and more mouse traps have been set at the Karingal home, located in Dalby, about 200km (120 miles) west of the state capital, Brisbane.

Nursing union officials say nursing staff are horrified by the infestation of mice and have called for the home to be shut down if the authorities cannot remove the rodents.

The state health department blamed the infestation on the cooler autumn climate which was forcing mice across the region to look for warm places to infiltrate.



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