Environmental Health Division
The Environmental Health Division is committed to protecting the health of the public by evaluating, correcting, and preventing many risk factors in the environment which can adversely affect the health of our community. Responsibilities of this division include regulatory evaluation and enforcement of food establishments, temporary food establishments, tourist establishments, dairy facilities, marinas, and swimming pools; investigation of foodborne illness complaints and outbreaks; food safety education and promotion; environmental complaints and investigations for rodent and pest infestation; mosquito surveillance concerning Zika Virus; and working with Richmond Animal Care and Control to administer the Rabies Program. We consistently interact with many state and local agencies in order to better serve our community.
Environmental Complaint Investigation
The Environmental Health Division investigates approximately 500 complaints from citizens each year regarding various environmental concerns such as rodents, insects, nuisance birds, obnoxious odors, standing water, in addition to complaints related to the facilities which are permitted by our department.
Code Enforcement with the City of Richmond also serves as a partner to address citizen complaints about trash, tall grass, property maintenance, abandon vehicles, private property issues, etc.
A major part of the division’s work is permitting and regulating food establishments. There are over 1,100 food establishments in the City of Richmond. These establishments include restaurants, mobile food units, school cafeterias, daycare centers, adult homes, hospital kitchens, and coffee shops. They are regularly inspected as determined by the uniform statewide risk categorization system. Visit the Food Safety webpage.
The Richmond City Health District permits and inspects approximately 50 hotels, motels, inns, and Bed & breakfast facilities in the City of Richmond. Tourist establishment regulations are enforced to ensure the quality of overall sanitation.
For more information, visit the VDH Tourist Lodging webpage.
Bedbugs are a biting, nuisance pest that are easily spread by human activities and can ruin the reputation of a hotel or motel. In spite of numerous studies, bedbugs have never been associated with the transmission of disease. However, bedbug bites can cause itchy welts that may become infected sores when scratched by the victim.
Swimming pools are inspected and the water is tested to ensure a safe swimming environment for bathers. All public swimming pools are inspected throughout the summer and all tourist establishment swimming pools are inspected annually. For more information, please visit the Healthy Swimming RVA page.
“Vectorborne disease” is the term commonly used to describe an illness caused by an infectious microbe that is transmitted to people by blood-sucking arthropods. The arthropods (insects or arachnids) that most commonly serve as vectors include 1.) blood-sucking insects such as mosquitoes, fleas, lice, biting flies and bugs, and 2.) blood-sucking arachnids such as mites and ticks. The term “vector” refers to any arthropod that transmits a disease through feeding activity. Click here for more VDH information on Vectorborne diseases including Zika, West Nile Virus, Malaria, insect repellent, and what you can do to help stop the spread of disease.
You may have rats on your property if you recognize droppings, runways, burrows, and live or dead rats. Contact a licensed pest control company to handle rodents on private property. Methods of controlling rats are rat killing, rat-proofing, and good sustained sanitation. Baiting is also effective after the food source is removed from the property. Follow manufacturer instructions.
- Wooden door jams can be flashed with sheet metal to protect them from rat gnawing. Open doors provide an easy entry for rodents; both the screen doors and wooden doors to establishments should be equipped with reliable self-closing devices.
- Vents and windows can be made secure against rat entry by screening them with heavy wire mesh, preferably in a sheet metal frame. If desired, insect screening can also be incorporated into the frame. Wood surfaces exposed to gnawing must be covered by the frame.
- Metal guards of suitable construction should be placed around or over wires and pipes to prevent rats from using them to gain entrance into a building.
- Openings around pipes or conduits should either be covered with sheet metal patches or filled with concrete or brick and mortar.
- The use of concrete for basement floors can prevent rodent entry.
- Floor drains, transoms, mail drops, and fan openings should be covered or screened.
Safe Clean Up
Urine and droppings left by rats could be contaminated with disease. Sprinkle droppings with a bleach/water solution and always wear gloves when cleaning up contaminated areas or handling dead rodents.
Rabies is a deadly disease caused by a virus that attacks the nervous system. It kills almost any mammal or human that gets sick from it. The rabies virus is mainly in the saliva and brain of rabid animals. It can be transmitted through a bite or by getting saliva or brain tissue in a wound or in the eye or mouth. Rabies cannot be transmitted by blood, feces, urine or by patting an animal. Only mammals such as dogs, cats, ferrets, raccoons, bats, etc. get rabies. Birds, fish, reptiles, and amphibians do not get rabies.
If bitten contact the following resources: Richmond City Health District, Environmental Health Division: (804) 205-3912. Richmond Animal Care & Control: (804) 646-5573. For more information, please visit: https://www.rva.gov/animal-care-control/animal-control.
Don’t panic…but don’t ignore the bite, either. Wash the wound thoroughly with soap and lots of water. Washing thoroughly will greatly lessen the chance of infection. Give first aid as you would for any wound. If possible, capture the animal under a large box or can, or at least identify it before it runs away. Don’t try to pick the animal up. Call an animal control or law enforcement officer to come to get it. It’s critically important that you notify your family doctor immediately and explain how you got the bite. Your doctor will want to know if the animal has been captured. If necessary, your doctor will give the anti-rabies treatment recommended by the United States Public Health Service. Your doctor will also treat you for other possible infections that could be caused by the bite. Report the bite to the local health department.
- Report the bite to the local health department and the Richmond Animal Care and Control. If your pet is a cat, dog, or ferret, you will probably be asked to confine the animal and watch it closely for 10 days.
- Tell the person bitten to see a doctor immediately.
- Check with your veterinarian to determine if your pet’s vaccinations are up to date.
- Don’t let your pet roam off of your property and don’t give the animal away. It must be available for observation by public health authorities.
- Don’t kill your pet or allow it to be killed.
- After the recommended observation period, have your pet vaccinated for rabies if it does not have a current rabies vaccination.
- Have your veterinarian vaccinate your dogs, cats, ferrets, and selected livestock. Keep the vaccinations up-to-date.
- If your pet is attacked or bitten by a wild animal, report it to the local health or animal control authorities. Be sure your vaccinated dog, cat, or ferret receives a booster vaccination.
- Limit the possibility of exposure by keeping your animals on your property. Don’t let pets roam free.
- Do not leave garbage or pet food outside. It may attract wild or stray animals.
- Do not keep wild animals as pets. Enjoy all wild animals from a distance, even if they seem friendly. A rabid animal sometimes acts tame. If you see an animal acting strangely, report it to your local animal control department and do not go near it yourself.
For more information on Rabies Control, please visit:
The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) oversees dairy producers and milk plants to ensure a safe, nutritious product is distributed to the people of the Commonwealth. Virginia dairy farmers produce approximately 240 million gallons of milk each year from over 700 dairy farms. This milk in its raw form has the potential to include dangerous germs, pathogens, bacteria, or contaminants that could harm a consumer. Once milk is processed (pasteurized) and quality checked for safety, it travels to your cup. The Richmond City Health District oversees and regulates the activities of a local dairy and creamery under the Virginia Grade A Milk Regulations which are based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Pasteurized Milk Ordinance.
The Environmental Health Division monitors the activities of two marinas in the City to ensure compliance with Virginia State Marina Regulations.