The Los Angeles city hall has a rat problem and it has gotten so bad that officials are scrambling to control the infestation amid a typhus outbreak. According to the L.A. Times, things are so serious that the City Council president asked for a full investigation on how to rid itself of the pests, including the feasibility of a proposal to rip up all the carpet in the building.
Several city staffers have seen rodents — some as big as a “possum” — around the city buildings, and other employees have been bitten by fleas while at work. One person even contracted typhus while working for the city. Council President Herb Wesson says that he has had vermin in his fourth-floor office and has found fleas in his carpet. One of Wesson’s former employees says that she found tiny paw prints on some paperwork on her desk.
Plants around the offices show signs of rat nesting, and last Halloween, one employee named Holly Wolcott found a pumpkin that had been nibbled on by a rodent. Wolcott says that she has seen the tail of a rat as it ran behind her office furniture.
“It was pretty big. I thought it was a possum,” she said.
Wolcott also says that she was bitten by a flea and worries that may have come from a rat. In fact, things have reached the point where Wesson was forced to move his staff out of the office during the holidays.
Wesson has asked for an estimate to determine how much it would cost to remove the carpets and replace it with a more sanitary option. His motion also wants the city to implement a policy that would better control the food in the office, requiring that meals and snacks be secured after hours, and to remove any live plants that are deemed attractive to rats.
“Employees shouldn’t have to come to work worried about rodents,” Wesson said. “I intend to do whatever it is we need.”
One city employee, a deputy city attorney named Elizabeth Greenwood, contracted typhus a few months ago and hasn’t returned to work since. She supported Wesson’s idea to remove all of the carpets in the buildings.
“I am actually terrified of entering the building again until they do something,” she said. “That carpet is years old — and, more than likely, it has fleas and flea eggs in it. I would really like to see the building fumigated for both rats and fleas. I hope they don’t wait.”