SAN JOSE (CBS SF) — Santa Clara County Vector Control officers said Friday that they are looking into a rat infestation in downtown San Jose, beneath an elevated section of Highway 280, and there are concerns it’s getting worse.

KPIX cameras were rolling when a large rat came out of a debris pile on Caltrans property near Almaden and Vine streets in the middle of the day. The rat appeared to be badly injured or diseased as it shuffled around a homeless camp nearby.

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The fact that it came out in the daytime is a big concern for Santa Clara County Vector Control officers.

“Rodents are usually active during the night time hours but it’s not unusual to see them come out during the day when it’s a large infestation, so this is a large infestation,” said Beverly Perez, a Vector Control Community Resource Specialist.

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Last fall Vector Control began a pilot program to trap, test and eradicate rats around homeless encampments. Multiple tests for one form of typhus came back negative during the fall and winter.

But that program had to be postponed because of the pandemic in March, and officers have not inspected this rodent hot spot. They are concerned the rodents could be spreading disease.

“They can cause respiratory illnesses through exposure to their feces and urine. Then there are diseases from the lice and fleas that are attached to these rodents which could then transmit to humans,” Perez said.

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Caltrans, which owns the property beneath the freeway, has not responded to repeated requests for comment.