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Tuesday October 8, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Tuesday October 8, 2013 MYT 10:57:25 AM
KOTA BARU: Mice and rats are infesting the Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital here and the management seems helpless to do anything about the “invasion”.
Patients and their minders spoke to The Star of their experiences with the rodents scurrying practically everywhere in the wards of the 12-storey building in Kubang Kerian here, scrounging for food at pantries, on beds and on the floors, oblivious to human presence.
The hospital, which was built in 1983, has had this pest problem for some 10 years now.
The food outlets just 30m away is a breeding ground for rats which then “migrated” to the hospital through underground burrows and sewage pipes.
Why the well-known problem has persisted for so long is a cause of wonder to many visitors and others like the young mother of a brain damaged four-year-old girl who related the story of the “missing fish cracker”.
“I left the keropok on my daughter’s bed table to go to the toilet and when I returned it was gone. At first I thought somebody had taken it but during the night I found out it was the work of mice after I saw it moving in the dark under the bed.
“I brought this up with the nurses and doctors but was told that this sort of thing was common in the wards and everyone was used to it,” added the housewife, whose five-year-old son said he saw mice running all over the place.
She heard a lot of noises from the ceiling especially at night that “sounded like mice fighting”.
The housewife, who declined to be named, said she saw a mouse sniffing her daughter’s plastic oxygen mask and got the nurse to replace it.
The aunt of an 11-month-old girl who was admitted for pneumonia said she saw mice on the reclining chairs, in the baby cots and near child minders sleeping on the floor.
The woman who did not want to be identified added: “I spoke to a doctor about this and she laughingly told me that the mice are treated like pets in the ward.”
Port Klang-based pest control expert with over 30 years experience, Ang Tan Loong, said the rodents at the hospital were probably from the commonhouse mouse or Mus muculus family.
He added that it was unlikely that hospital was infested with sewer rats or Rattus Novegicus of the Rattus rattus family which were ground rodents.
Ang said that a formula for roughly guessing the population of house mice at a place was to multiply by 10 each pair seen.
“The common house mouse has a five-year lifespan and the female can produce a litter of four in a three-month gestation period,” said Ang, who is president of the Federation of South-East Asia Fumigators.
Ang said sewer rats can do untold damage to the electrical wiring and centralised air-conditioning system apart from being the cause of leptospirosis transmitted by their urine and droppings.
Apart from the mice in the wards, rats were found at the main cafeteria of the university complex, according to a hospital spokesman.
”Our initial findings are that the sewer rats hiding in the drainage system have found their way to the hospital from the nearby business centre,” he said.
“We have tried to solve the problem of rats hiding in the suspended ceiling by cutting off their entry and exit points but to no avail.
“We have engaged a pest control company to rid the hospital of rats.”
The spokesman said the hospital was getting help from the USM main campus in Penang to study the problem and recommend the next course of action.
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