A HOSPITAL is battling an outbreak of fleas, which has already resulted in a number of staff being bitten.
University Hospital Galway (UHG) confirmed that staff had been bitten in the outpatient department, which treats up to 4,000 patients each week.
A spokesperson for the hospital insisted that there was "no sign" that the outbreak had affected patients at the facility.
The hospital is now liaising with the HSE, Environmental Health and Public Health Departments on the outbreak.
Padraig Conneely, chairman HSE West Regional Forum, said the outbreak was of "great concern" and called for swift action to bring it under control.
"This has happened in one of the busiest departments we have at the hospital.
"If it was to spread to the general hospital it would be a major catastrophe. They need to confine it, eliminate it and find out the source.
"They just can't keep treating it, they need to get to the source or it will keep coming back," he said.
A statement from the HSE West said: "The hospital has undertaken a series of actions to deal with the problem and we have communicated with staff in the department who have been affected. There is no sign that this is affecting patients.
"The hospital is sorry for the discomfort to staff and for any worry this has caused to staff and may cause patients and is grateful for the patience and support of all concerned while we deal with this."
The hospital added that it was now following "appropriate measures" to address the problem.
"Our aim is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our patients and staff at all times.
"The hospital are taking all appropriate measures and will continue to do so until the matter is fully addressed. We have also liaised with the HSE Environmental Health and Public Health Departments in relation to this matter," it added.
Mr Conneely added that he wanted assurances that the outbreak would not result in a delay to patient treatment.
"The waiting list was already unacceptable. Many of these people have already been waiting for five or six years for this treatment and there should be no further delay," he said.