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Birds cause health hazard at one transportation office

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email

Bats and other birds create a health hazard at one local state highway maintenance garage.
Officials say more than 100 bats and birds are inside the Johnson County state highway office! The building is closed until further notice.

Workers at the Johnson County state maintenance garage have to work outside. The doors are locked and no one is allowed inside.

"The problem is some birds and bats have taken up housekeeping in the space between the ceiling and the roof," said Sara George with the District 12 State Transportation Department.

Highway officials say an estimated 150 birds are in the building, making it hard for the engineering and maintenance staff to do their jobs.
"There is a noise issue. When you have 100-150 birds up there, they make an awful lot of racket," said George.

The biggest issue came when an air quality expert ran tests and discovered it was not safe for people to breathe the air due to a fungus from bird droppings.
"The air did have traces of Histoplasmosis in it, so our chief district engineer made the decision to just close the building," said George.

All of the engineering staff has moved to the Pikeville office.
The maintenance staff moved all their equipment out of the garage and either work outside or go to the garages in nearby counties.
The state office in Frankfort sent a mobile command trailer with phones and computers in case there is bad weather or another disaster.
"If we do have snow, we won't miss a lick," said George.

State officials say animal control experts will remove the bats and birds.
"We will move back into the facility once that occurs and it is all clean and safe," said George.

There is no timetable yet on when the bats and birds will be removed and the building declared safe, but highway officials say this will not disrupt any current projects in Johnson County.

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