State health building in Central Austin infested by hundreds of rats


The headquarters of the state’s health agency is overrun with several hundred rats, officials said.

The news of the infestation, which has been an issue since late summer, was first reported by the Texas Tribune on Wednesday.

Officials with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which, among other things ensures state-regulated buildings are sanitary and pest-free, have signed off on spending $60,000 for Orkin to come and trap the vermin crawling around the Brown-Heatly building on North Lamar Boulevard near West 51st Street. The state facilities commission said renovation and construction that has been going on at the building contributed to the invasion, according to the Tribune.

An employee saw “a rat come down the wall and hide behind a filing cabinet. It could not be located. There are also droppings,” according to an internal email obtained by the American-Statesman. Lesley French, an associate commissioner, responded in another email: “This is really unsettling the staff.”

The facilities commission typically handles pest problems but the agency has dug into its repair and maintenance budget to eradicate the rodents.

“While we have been trapping and working with the Texas Facilities Commission, we wanted to take the extra step and hire a contractor to address the situation before winter,” health agency spokeswoman Christine Mann said.

Employees — 1,200 of them work in the building — are being asked to keep their work space clean by tossing food, storing food in the refrigerator or in a sealed container and cleaning up soiled dishes by the end of the day.

Officials are offering anonymity to employees who snitch on their coworkers for noncompliance.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Texas News & Politics

2 Louisiana elementary school students arrested over nude Snapchat photos
2 Louisiana elementary school students arrested over nude Snapchat photos

Police in Louisiana arrested a female elementary school student who took nude pictures of herself, as well as her male classmate who shared the photographs through a social media app, WGNO reported. The students, who are enrolled at Bonne Ecole Elementary in Slidell, were charged with distribution of child pornography, the Slidell Police Department...
Florida commissioner allegedly fed, housed couple in exchange for sex twice a week
Florida commissioner allegedly fed, housed couple in exchange for sex twice a week

A Florida county commissioner was arrested Thursday on multiple prostitution-related charges after authorities said he housed and fed a couple in exchange for having sex with the man’s wife twice a week, The Tampa Bay Times reported. Hernando County Commissioner Nick Nicholson, 71, was arrested Thursday by the Hernando County Sheriff&rsquo...
New Jersey state trooper indicted for pulling women over to ask for dates
New Jersey state trooper indicted for pulling women over to ask for dates

A New Jersey state trooper was indicted Thursday on charges he allegedly pulled over women on traffic stops to ask them out on dates, The Trentonian reported. Eric Richardson, 32, of Camden, faces charges including official misconduct, criminal coercion and tampering with records, the state attorney’s office announced. According to the six-count...
Top contract oversight official at Texas health agency resigns
Top contract oversight official at Texas health agency resigns

The top procurement official for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission has resigned — the fifth departure from the agency as it answers to multiple contracting flaps this month. Ron Pigott, deputy executive commissioner of procurement and contracting services, resigned Friday from the agency. Agency officials did not provide a reason...
'Scarface' stars, fans reunite to say hello to their little friends
'Scarface' stars, fans reunite to say hello to their little friends

Fans of “Scarface” were more than happy to say hello to their little friends Thursday. Members from the 1983 movie -- known for its violence and profanity, and a cult classic -- had a reunion at the Tribeca Film Festival, The New York Daily News reported. Al Pacino, who played Cuban immigrant-turned-drug-lord Tony Montana, appeared...
More Stories