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Vol. LXIII, No. 13
June 24, 2011

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Have a question about some aspect of working at NIH? You can post anonymous queries at (click on the Feedback icon) and we’ll try to provide answers.

Feedback: There are lots of construction projects taking place on the NIH campus—Bldg. 35, utility tunnels, a run-off pond, parts of Bldg. 10, etc. When is a new child care center going to be built? It’s been promised for 10+ years and it still hasn’t been built. I even heard that funds from FY 10 were designated for it.

Response from the Office of Research Services and the Office of Research Facilities: Currently, NIH sponsors three child care centers with independent operators in the Bethesda/Rockville area to serve the main campus and nearby offices. One of the centers, the NIH Infant Child Care Program (Childkind, Inc.), has been located in a “temporary” structure for more than 10 years and is showing signs of age and needs to be replaced.  

In FY 2010, NIH received congressional appropriations to design and build a new 21,000-gross-square-foot Northwest Child Care Center (NWCCC) in the northwest quadrant of the campus at the intersection of Convent Dr. and Center Dr., just across the street from the Safra Family Lodge. The new NWCCC will provide a permanent home for the infant center and begin to address the urgent need for more child care on campus.

The new 2-story NWCCC will have a maximum capacity of 170 children and contain administrative areas, a multi-purpose room, classrooms, outdoor play areas and a parking/drop-off area for parents. The new structure will meet the licensing requirements of the Maryland state department of education, Office of Child Care and the accreditation requirements of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.  

The Office of Research Facilities has completed concept plans for the new Northwest Child Care Center in partnership with the Office of Research Services, which oversees the NIH Child Care Programs. A contract award is anticipated later this summer. Upon completion of the design phase by the contractor, construction should start in late 2011 and the center should open in early 2013.

Feedback: As potential bearers of Lyme disease-bearing ticks, the deer on campus present a health risk to employees and visitors and especially to Clinical Center patients, notably those with compromised immune function but who may feel well enough to spend a little time outdoors. Does NIH plan to do anything about our potential exposures to Lyme disease and if so, what and when?

Response from ORS: In February 2010, NIH hired a wildlife consultant to conduct a site assessment of the white-tailed deer population on the NIH main campus. One of the areas they were asked to address was the potential of the deer as a vector for Lyme disease.

Lyme disease is caused by the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi and is transmitted to humans through the bite of infected blacklegged ticks.  

Lyme disease occurs throughout the Washington, D.C., area. However, you are much more likely to contract Lyme disease in a wooded area near your home or at your local park where larger deer populations reside than on the NIH campus. As the consultant reported, “Lyme disease is not likely to be an issue on the NIH campus due to the small number of deer present. In addition to deer, white-footed mice, which are present on the campus, also carry Lyme disease. Since the mature, wooded areas of the campus are protected, employees should have very little contact with the natural vegetation in which deer ticks would be living. The low number of deer present on the NIH campus does not warrant either lethal or reproductive management in relation to…the likelihood of the transmission of Lyme disease.”

As long as employees, patients and visitors stay on the sidewalks and do not venture into the wooded areas, it is highly unlikely they would ever contract the disease on this campus. For more information about Lyme disease, visit

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