A Delvin, County Westmeath couple whose local authority house has become infested with rats has spoken of their fears for the health of their eight children.

Concerned mother and father Sharon Daly and Adrian Conway said their greatest worry is that the rodents will contaminate the water tank in their attic – a development that would have potentially lethal implications for the couple and their children, aged between one and 14.

To compound their worries one of the children, Pauric, seven, suffers from spina bifida and uses a wheelchair.

“We can hear them scraping at night in the attic. It’s frightening for me and the kids,” Daly said. “It’s a big danger. I’m still washing my kids [with water from the tank] and I don’t know if I’m harming them.

“Every morning we get up there are droppings on the counter and we have to bleach. When we come back in after being out we are bleaching the counters and the cups. It is very stressful.”

The family first became aware of the rats in May. They believe the rodents are entering the house through pipes attached to the extractor fan and clothes drier.

While Conway has already caught five animals in traps and a pest controller from the council visited the home last week and put down a number of traps, Daly believes the council needs to find alternative accommodation for the family of 10, who are cramped into three bedrooms.

“We have a one-year-old and two-year-old. If a rat died on the floor there would be germs for the little kids. We’re most concerned about the little ones. Pauric has no feeling from the waist down – if something bit him in the legs, that would be him gone,” Daly said.

Westmeath County Council said that they were “looking into the matter.”