By Henry Samuel
A paraplegic teenage girl in northern France was found in a pool of blood after being attacked in her bed by rats which bit and scratched her hundreds of times.
The 14-year-old, who was defenceless in her medical bed when the attack occurred last Friday night, suffered 225 wounds all over her body, including her face. Several of her finger tips were gnawed off.
Police in the city of Roubaix, close to the Belgian border, were told last Sunday by hospital staff that the disabled girl, known only as Samantha, had been admitted.
An examination by a forensic pathologist determined that the injuries were caused by rats which swarmed her as she lay on her bed, according to local newspaper la Voix du Nord.
The girl's father has filed a complaint against the landlord of the house and against the city, saying that he had repeatedly asked them to remove a pile of rubbish bins left in a nearby carpark, the police source said.
Speaking to La Voix du Nord, the father said that his daughter had spent the night in her special bed on the ground floor, as usual. "When at 7pm on Saturday we went to see her, Samantha was lying in a pool of blood," he is cited as saying.
The father of three thought his daughter had been the victim of a violent break-in. "She was bleeding from her ears, I thought she'd had a brain haemorrhage. I had the fright of my life," he said.
He explained that she was far less sensitive to pain due to her condition. "She must have felt the rats on her but didn't have the presence of mind to call us," he said.
"She's received a battery of vaccines. Her fingertips have been gnawed off. It's not operable," he said. Her life is not now in danger and there are no signs of rabies.
The doctors told him the attack was very rare. "Rats practically only attack dead people," he said.
A preliminary investigation has been opened to examine "housing conditions contrary to human dignity", the prosecutor's office told AFP.
The town hall of Roubaix and the landlord were not immediately available for comment.