Patients at NSW Health facilities have been bitten by mice as a horror plague escalates in the west of the state.
Three residents or patients at facilities in Tottenham, Walgett and Gulargambone received minor bites, a spokeswoman told AAP.
“The current mouse infestation across western NSW is a natural occurrence. NSW Health staff are responding with appropriate control measures,” she said.
NSW Western Area Health Service has also reported a case of leptospirosis—a rare disease which can cause kidney failure and meningitis—as a result of mice in domestic dwellings.
The mice plague is not just affecting residents’ health but their livelihoods.
Farmers in many parts of regional NSW are reporting a drastic increase in mice populations, which are decimating crops, destroying stored hay and invading silos, sheds, and homes.
NSW Farmers President James Jackson said grain growers hold grave concerns about the winter crop planting season, which is due to start within weeks.
“Farmers need some more control options. We are requesting that an Emergency Use Permit be issued for Zinc Phosphide to treat seed,” he said on Wednesday.
NSW Farmers is also seeking some financial assistance through a small grants program.
“Mouse control is very costly,” Jackson said.
“Action is needed now. This mice situation is only getting worse.”
Steve Henry, a researcher at Australia’s national science agency CSIRO, told The Guardian that this year’s plague could be the result of the unusually large grain harvest, which saw mice start breeding earlier in the season with abundant food and favourable weather conditions.
“They start breeding earlier and because there’s lots of food and shelter in the system, they continue to breed from early spring right through into the autumn,” Henry said.
By Tiffanie Turnbull