‘Feces and dead rats’: Congressional daycare experienced serious rodent infestation over summer

The U.S. House of Representatives Child Care Center allegedly experienced a prolonged rodent issue over the summer, according to a whistleblower, but the issue has reportedly been resolved.

“There have been sightings of more than 15 rats in a two-month period, and they told the teachers to stay in the classroom with feces and dead rats,” Gabrielle Reed, a former administrative specialist and assistant teacher at the Center in southwest Washington, told The Washington Post.

Rodents, such as rats and mice, can spread hantavirus, leptospirosis, lymphocytic choriomeningitis (LCMV), Tularemia and Salmonella, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Infestation of rodents in and around the home is the main reason disease spreads from rodents to people,” the CDC said. “These diseases can spread to people directly, through handling of rodents; contact with rodent feces, urine, or saliva (such as through breathing in air or eating food that is contaminated with rodent waste); or rodent bites.”

Reed, who worked at the center from April 2021 through August, quit due to health concerns after she said she picked up rat droppings.

“In some cases, the animals were seen crawling over sleeping children during nap time,” Fox News reported.

Officials overseeing the childcare center said they have taken steps to solve the problem previously reported by ABC7 TV and the Dear White Staffers Instagram account.

“We have been working closely with the Architect of the Capitol and the Office of the Attending Physician’s environmental health staff since early July,” the chief administrative officer of the US House of Representatives told Fox News in a prepared statement. “There have been no reports, sightings or evidence of rodents since mid-August.”

“All parties involved have taken immediate action and the utmost care in ensuring the Child Care Center remains a safe and welcoming environment for staff and the Center’s children and families,” the statement continued.

Paige Beatty, director of the center, informed parents of the infestations in a July 11 email published by WJLA. The email said sightings had been ongoing for a week at that point.

A follow-up email on August 16 stated that while they were still seeing rats, the sightings and other “evidence of activity” at the center had “slowed significantly.”

Some staffers felt the lackadaisical response was too little, too late and said they had concerns about management’s response and their alleged unwillingness to remove teachers and children from areas where rats had been detected, Fox News reported.

The childcare center’s operations manager, Bethany Detweiller, contacted staff on August 24 with an update.

The email, published by WJLA, detailed steps taken to address the issue, including adding additional trash pickups, sealing holes and replacing access panels in bathrooms, the installation of rodent-proofed plumbing and replacement of damaged or missing ceiling tiles.

A separate email dated September 1 indicated that every classroom would receive a deep cleaning, WJLA reported.

Rat experts said it’s often hard to tell how many rats there are in a building, but it is highly unusual to have just one. Seeing them outside during the day, considering the animals are nocturnal scavengers, is a sign of infestation.


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