RAMPAGING squirrels are attacking nurses on their way to work, meaning health chiefs have been forced to give advice to their employees to protect them from the animals.

Staff in Langley Park, County Durham, have been told to wear protective headgear, walk in pairs and carry umbrellas after a nurse was singled out by the furry fiends.

Apparently two grey squirrels approached the woman because they thought she might feed them nuts. The district nurse was visiting a farm in Langley Park when the anti-social rodents struck.

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A Department of Health spokesman said: “The hospital involved sent out guidance that nurses should be careful and wear protective headgear or carry an umbrella.

“The guidance says that they should walk in pairs. It is in case someone is injured and falls unconscious, so the other one can get help.”

No official report has been submitted to the Department of Health, but the spokesman said advice had been issued in the wake of the attack, which left the victim with a “reddening of the scalp”.

The nurse rated the severity of the incident as “moderate”

on a scale of “insignificant to catastrophic” in a work accident report log.

Karen Gibson, from community group Equal, which runs a nature reserve in Langley Park, said there were grey squirrels in the area.

She said: “They are not normally aggressive, but they might have been fed by people, so they may have thought they could have been fed by the district nurse.

They are normally very shy and they run away from you, but it can still be distressing if you come across an aggressive squirrel.

“I think they would be frightened once they realised their mistake and would hopefully run away.”

She said she had not heard of a squirrel attack in the area before.

Ms Gibson added: “I have seen notices and heard of things in parks in more southern areas where people automatically go and say ‘oh lovely little squirrels, we will feed them’ and the children are in danger then. It can happen and, like all wildlife, you need to respect it and enjoy it from a distance.

“The squirrels will be more afraid of you than you are of them, so clap your hands, shout at them and they will run away.”