Rats chase cops out of Area 1 HQ - Officers opt to work outdoors amid lepto fears
A suspected outbreak of leptospirosis, which is being blamed for five of their colleagues suddenly falling ill, has forced police personnel operating out the old Area One headquarters in Montego Bay to vacate the building, where rats have taken charge.
“On February 1, it was brought to the attention of the St James Health Department that a health condition was detected at the Area One office,” said Lennox Wallace, the chief public health inspector for St James. “I, myself, and a team [went] to the location and we found out that the findings were indeed true. We observed an increase in the rodent population and an increase in other insects, mainly termites.”
According to Wallace, his department immediately began setting rat baits.
While he did not order the building closed, the officers, out of concern for their health, have chosen to vacate their offices and work outside on the verandah and in the yard.
“We have just baited the entire compound and we will be returning this weekend to rebait it again,” said Wallace. “Hopefully, things will be back to normal soon.”
When The Gleaner visited the location yesterday, the officers assigned to the Area One Accident Reconstruction Unit, the Fraud Squad, the Human Resource Department, and the Community Safety and Security departments, which are located at that building, were seen outside carrying out their various functions.
“A dis wi come to, Gleaner! Rat run wi out a wi office!” a police officer said. “Di health people have set bait, but because of the many things dem asking us not to touch, we decide seh it better we work outside until dem fix the rat problem.”
One officer told The Gleaner that all five colleagues who fell ill had similar complaints and were forced to seek medical attention and are now awaiting the results of tests.
“They were all experiencing high fever, muscle aches and abdominal pains, which are the symptoms of leptospirosis, and with these rats around, you never know,” the officer said.
The building, which is predominantly constructed out of wood, was built in 1901, but despite its age, except for the rat infestation, is in a fairly good condition.