You can almost hear the jokes spreading through Hudson about a flea infestation at the Columbia County Municipal Building at 401 State St., but this is no laughing matter.
The fleas forced the closing and emergency renovation of the Columbia County Board of Elections office. Multiple attempts by pest-control specialists failed to eradicate the fleas, and now the county is forced to renovate the office. Fleas are nasty, stubborn little critters.
Fleas bite people as well as dogs and cats. The bites can cause intense itching and irritation, according to the Entomology Department at the University of Kentucky. They are highly prolific. Females are capable of laying hundreds or thousands of eggs inside buildings or outdoors. Infestations can quickly spiral out of control.
Staff have been sent home and the office closed early on several occasions after the fleas were seen. Employees reported being bitten in the past five weeks. The entire building at 401 State has been treated for the infestation but the fleas are concentrated in the board of elections office.
The renovations will include taking out the floor and installing a new one. The total cost of renovations has not yet been determined, but it could be exorbitant.
A temporary board of elections office will be set up down the hall in the same building, away from the infested area. The temporary office is expected to open Monday.
No one knows where the fleas came from or why they can’t be fully eradicated. With elections coming up, this is a serious — and likely expensive — emergency situation for Columbia County.