More Tools in War Against Rats

Gerard Brown of DOH Detailed New Efforts to ANC 6B

In this file photo, Department of Health (DOH) Program Manager for Rodent and Vector Control Gerard Brown speaks to the September 11th, 2018 meeting of ANC 6B.

A rat sterilization pilot project has been underway in the city since last May, Department of Health (DOH) Program Manager for Rodent and Vector Control Gerard Brown told the Jan. 14 meeting of Advisory Neighborhood Commission (ANC) 6B. That program has been extended to ensure it is effective.

The goal of the project is to sterilize rats who drink a chemical placed in boxes throughout the city. The company that produces the chemical has provided cameras to watch the rodents as they consume the product.

In Ward 6 the box is located on the 200 block of Seventh Street SE, across from Eastern Market.

While DOH knows that rats are drinking the chemical, Brown said the success of the program is determined by a decrease in sightings of baby rats. While jurisdictions throughout the country had been calling to ask if it was working, Brown said it was too early to call it a success.

The warrior against rodents said there were changes to the rodent-fighting division. Not only has the size of the team been increased from 12 to 16 members, duties have also been combined. One employee can now investigate and treat pest problems as well as document evidence for a ticket. These had previously required two separate employees.

DOH Buys Carbon Monoxide Machine

DOH has purchased a carbon monoxide machine, Brown said, adding that he was ‘rather proud’ of the purchase.  The machine produces the gas and also allows pest controllers to inject it into rat burrows and kill them instantly, a tool that is already in use throughout the District.

Brown said that the machine will be used in an initiative DOH was undertaking in partnership with the Downtown BID to treat rat-infested tree boxes throughout their area. DOH will identify and treat rat holes with carbon monoxide. Then, the BID will install landscaping mesh over the tree boxes to prevent burrows from returning.

Brown said that he wanted to reach out to the Capitol Hill BID to implement a similar project along the Pennsylvania Avenue SE Corridor, especially in the 200 and 300 blocks. The BID will be asked to provide the labor to install rat-proof mesh in the tree boxes.

Citizen Assist Program

Brown reminded the commission that the Citizen Assist Program is still active. The program allows residents to take date-timed photos of the infractions and send them in to DOH, who can then determine if they should issue an infraction and fine of up to $500.

Residents can document any sanitation violations on commercial properties, such as overflowing dumpsters, damaged trash containers, or grease not properly stored with date-stamped photographs clearly showing the location, a written description of the issue and the reporter’s name and address.

This information can be forwarded to the Jermaine Matthews, Supervisor of DOH Code Enforcement Division at

Participants would have to be willing to volunteer as a witness if there is an appeal that leads to a hearing on the issue. You can get full details on how to participate here.