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'The ceiling, the walls, the beds, they were everywhere': US veteran dies after being found covered in ants at VA hospital

A Vietnam War veteran has died days after he was bitten more than 100 times by ants while in an Atlanta Veterans Affairs hospital.

Joel Marrable was being treated for cancer at a nursing home at the Atlanta VA Medical Centre when he was bitten by the ants, according to his daughter, Laquna Ross.

Ms Ross told ABC Atlanta that she noticed her father’s hands were swollen and his body covered in red bumps during a visit to see her father.

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She then alerted the staff, she said, and was “worried and confused because that wasn’t how he looked when I saw him last time”.

In response, a staff member told her that Mr Marrable had been swarmed by ants earlier.

They said ‘You know, the ants,’” Ms Ross said. “The staff member says to me, ‘When we walked in here, we thought Mr Marrable was dead. We thought he wasn’t even alive, because the ants were all over him'.”

“His room had ants, the ceiling, the walls, the beds. They were everywhere. He served his country in the Air Force, and I think that he deserved better.”

The Atlanta VA Hospital has released a statement in response to the incident, saying that the bedrooms have since been stripped and searched for ants. Open containers of food have been removed and a pest control company has been hired to do an inspection, they said.

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“The Atlanta VA Health Care System leadership team has been notified that ants were found in our community living centre and impacting patients. CLC staff immediately cared for the veterans and took action to ensure no other CLC residents were impacted. We would like to express our heartfelt remorse and apology to the veterans' families and have reached out to them to offer appropriate assistance,” the statement read.

Ms Ross said that the health care workers bathed her father and moved him and cleaned his room after the incident, but that the ants came back. They then moved him to a new room, where he died.

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