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Blame game begins after mice gnaw nursing hom -

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Reporter: Nicole Butler

PETER CAVE: With the story making headlines around the world, the blame game in full swing in
Queensland today over the horror story of the mice attack in a Darling Downs nursing home.

Two bed-ridden residents were gnawed at by mice in the state run aged care facility.

One victim - an 89-year-old World War II veteran - became critically ill after the Anzac Day
attack.

The Queensland Government has been criticised for its handling of the problem and there are now
calls for the Health Minister to be sacked.

In Brisbane, Nicole Butler reports.

NICOLE BUTLER: Julie's bed-ridden father is one of two residents at the Karingal Nursing home at
Dalby who's been gnawed at by mice.

JULIE: He had blood on his, under his fingernails and on his hands where they presume he'd tried to
move them away.

But dad has no memory of any of this happening; the state he was in on the Sunday morning - the
Sunday and the Monday - he doesn't remember anything from those days, which is good.

NICOLE BUTLER: The 89-year-old World War II veteran had been bitten by mice around the head and
throat and he became critically ill after the attack.

JULIE: By the time I got there other family members were there and the doctor had been. So by that
stage he was calm, he was comfortable, they'd given him morphine and he wasn't awake at all.

NICOLE BUTLER: The mice attacks happened on the weekend.

On Tuesday, ABC News reported that the nursing home was being troubled by the plague on the Darling
Downs, yet the Health Minister Paul Lucas says he hadn't heard about the problems until yesterday.

Questions are being asked about that delay.

ANNA BLIGH: Well, I think that's a very good question and the Minister is asking his own staff
that. But let's be clear, the Minister this week has been overseeing all of the requirements to
have us on full alert and fully prepared for what may be a very, very serious outbreak of influenza
pandemic.

NICOLE BUTLER: Premier Anna Bligh defended her Health Minister this morning during the swine flu
update that he'd normally handle.

Ms Bligh was standing by Mr Lucas over the mice attacks amid heated calls for the Minister to be
sacked.

ANNA BLIGH: I endorse the comments from the Health Minister yesterday. It is not acceptable that
anybody living in an aged care home run by the state should be subjected to this sort of problem.

I look forward to seeing the results of a thorough investigation about what has led to this.

NICOLE BUTLER: Not only did Mr Lucas fail to front the media pack during the daily swine flu
update, he also told ABC local radio that Queensland health district manager Pam Lane was the best
person to talk to.

But during that interview Ms Lane seemed confused about when the mice started to pose a problem at
the nursing home.

PAM LANE: The mouses started to get out of control at a much larger number in April.

INTERVIEWER: Well, the end of February she's saying, and the staff are saying the end of February,
and that's when they pleaded with Queensland Health to be able to set these mouse traps.

They've now been allowed once this has become public.

Was there an argument to actually do that earlier?

PAM LANE: I think we've had a major learning from this that we needed to ramp it up much faster.

NICOLE BUTLER: The State Opposition is blaming the Government for restricting traditional pesticide
treatment of the land adjoining the Dalby Hospital, which houses Karingal

But Ms Lane says there's a good reason for that.

PAM LANE: I'm told that the poison is particularly dangerous, and it's been used on crops in the
Dalby area, but it's particularly dangerous to the environment, and I'm seeking further advice.

NICOLE BUTLER: The gruesome mice attacks have attracted federal attention and the Commonwealth has
also launched an investigation.

The Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot has vowed it will be a thorough inquiry and she hasn't ruled
out taking action against Queensland Health.

JUSTINE ELLIOT: I certainly will have no hesitation in taking further action against the providers
of the home, Queensland Health, and in relation to any future action that may need to be taken,
because I'm concerned for the residents that are there, for their welfare and their safety and for
their health.

And we do have very strict regulatory compliance and regulatory systems in place. That's why I've
launched this major investigation.

PETER CAVE: The Federal Minister for Ageing Justine Elliot ending Nicole Butler's report.