Action Line: State responds to Waialua rat problem

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The state took action on Friday after KHON2 alerted the Department of Health about a rat problem in Waialua.

A resident turned to Action Line last week looking for help.

Initially, Waialua resident Lester Choi called health officials, but didn’t get very far.

But after KHON2 checked out his property and contacted officials, vector control responded.

KHON2 was there, when health officials arrived at Choi’s home Friday morning. He tells them about the 24 rats he caught on his property last week.

“Then I caught 14 more. Last night I caught one more,” Choi said.

The state tells him they can only do so much.

“But unless we actually find the problem, we won’t be able to order anyone to do anything,” said Peter Oshiro, Environmental Health Program manager.

That’s because budget cuts in 2009 gutted the vector control division, getting rid of the state’s eradication program. That’s a big reason why Choi didn’t receive a lot of help when he contacted the health department.

“My friend told me to call Action Line just to see, and they responded so fast. It’s unreal,” Choi said.

An entomologist and the island’s only vector control inspector, tried to find the source of the pesky problem. They walked in and around a large field across Choi’s house, checking out possible hiding places.

“If there’s any actual activity, outside the hole would be a very clean and hard surface, not like this,” said Jeomhee Hasty, Vector Control Entomologist.

They also inspect Choi’s home, looking high and low for clues and evidence.

“The mangoes, macadamia nuts, the avocado tree, there’s a lot of food sources on the property,” said Raphael Vares, Vector Control Inspector.

After nearly an hour of looking:

“We have no idea where they’re coming from,” Oshiro said.

But they offer the Waialua resident some suggestions.

“But the main thing is they pick up the mangoes daily and they don’t leave it out for the rats,” Vares said.

“Make sure if you have pets or animals, that all their dog food or animal food are kept in closed containers so they don’t attract rodents,” Oshiro said.

Choi said he will follow their advice and see what happens.

“I feel very satisfied in what you folks doing and what Action Line is doing,” Choi said.

The state says if they had more workers, they would be able to do more for Choi such as surveillance work and laying out rat traps.

Related story: Action Line: Rats infest Waialua home

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