Inspectors: Get ready for more rats

by: David Ham Updated:

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SEATTLE —

KIRO 7 first captured video of a rat infestation in Belltown Wednesday, showed it to King County Health officials and asked what could be done about the problem. 
 

"This Belltown location has been reoccurring," said David Christensen, King County Environmental Health inspector.
 
Health inspectors said there have been recent complaints of rats near Ampersand Lounge at 1st and Bell in Belltown.
 
Inspectors say sewer rat infestations grow in the spring.
 
A KIRO 7 staffer captured video of the rats running into the building . We counted 17 rats in just one minute.
 
The owner of Ampersand Lounge, Dhiresh Tewari, was sent a letter asking him to call a rodent specialist to find the source of the rat problem near his business. 
 
He said he's tried to do what he can to keep the rats away.
 
"If there ever were a plague in Seattle it will start from Belltown because of these rats," said Tewari.
 
We asked King County Health officials if people in Seattle should be worried about getting sick from the rats, which are known to carry diseases and bacteria like salmonella.
 
A spokesperson told us there isn't any evidence that the rats are making anyone sick in Seattle.
 
However, inspector Don Pace said there is potential.
 
"They contaminate food with urine or feces, and if you don’t' know it and you could possibly ingest something that day," said Pace.
 
We followed him as he put rat poison underneath manholes in South Seattle.
 
Keeping the rats out of the sewer means they are less likely to pop up in homes.
 
He said the county gets up to 80 complaints a year about rats popping up in toilets.
 
"It's very scary, especially at night if they get up and you’re sitting down you're not expecting it. That’s kinda rude," said Pace.
 
King County Health says that there's no way to get rid of all of the rats in the city, there are only ways to limit the infestation.
 
Inspectors don't actively seek out infestations; their response is based on complaints.
 
"Calling us and telling us there are rats in Belltown isn't helpful but if you think you know where they're living or what food source they have is pretty helpful for us to address it," said Christensen.
 
The King County Health Department says you can file a complaint through their website.

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