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For anyone who doesn’t believe politics is a dirty business, check out the rats at Los Angeles city hall.

Public servants arrive some mornings to find tiny paw prints, nibbled plants, even droppings and puddles on their desks. Los Angeles City Clerk Holly Wolcott was chased from her office by a rat the size of an opossum, and her staff found a dead rodent inside a copy machine. A deputy city attorney is on leave after contracting typhus.

“If only my 15 minutes of fame were about something wonderful I did,” said Elizabeth Greenwood, who was diagnosed in November. “But no. I’m now the international poster child for typhus.”

The iconic 26-story Los Angeles City Hall building has had its share of unwelcome visitors over the past 90 years. Municipal employees say the building’s current rat infestation has grown in recent months from a gnawing problem to a potential public-health crisis.

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