Don't let the bed bugs bite . . .

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When New Yorkers complained about bed bugs in hotels and apartments the past few years, many figured the problem was localized to the East Coast. Even when retailer, Nike, closed its flagship store, Niketown in Manhattan, to deal with the bed bug invasion, many in the West still hoped it was an “Eastern” problem. But when college and university administrators were notified of bed bugs on their campuses recently, students became concerned.

The most recent college to close a dorm is Oklahoma State University where the critters moved into Drummond Hall. According to WFIE.com, campus workers treated one room immediately, then brought in the big bug guns using a thermal system which uses heat and chemicals to kill the biting insects. The students were back in their rooms that evening.

Catawba College in Salisbury, S.C., closed nearly half of the school’s dormitories Sept. 15 so exterminators could attack the growing infestation. Bed bugs were also reported at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, S.C. Other universities including Ohio State University, University of Florida, Texas A&M all reported bed bugs in their dormitories, with the Texas school spending $37,000 this past year in treatment.

In an article two years ago in USA Today, Greg Toppo reported “Bedbugs are everywhere," he says. “They’re finding these things in public transit, in movie theaters, in cruise ships, in all the hospitality accommodations.”

Unlike cockroaches, bedbugs aren’t an indicator of bad housekeeping, says Richard Cooper, co-author of Bedbug Handbook: The Complete Guide to Bedbugs and Their Control. “The bug doesn’t discriminate on social status. Blood’s blood.”

According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, “Bed bugs have been common in U.S. history. Although bed bug populations dropped dramatically during the mid-20th century, the United States is one of many countries now experiencing an alarming resurgence in the population of bed bugs.

“Though the exact cause is not known, experts suspect the resurgence is associated with increased resistance of bed bugs to available pesticides, greater international and domestic travel, lack of knowledge regarding control of bed bugs due to their prolonged absence, and the continuing decline or elimination of effective vector/pest control programs at state and local public health agencies.

“In recent years, public health agencies across the country have been overwhelmed by complaints about bed bugs…Research, training and public education are critical to an effective strategy for reducing public health issues associated with the resurgence of bed bug populations.”

Although bed bugs are not known to transmit disease, they are a pest of significant public health importance.

CDC describes bed bugs as small, flat insects that feed on the blood of sleeping people and animals. They are reddish-brown in color, wingless, and range from 1 to 7 millimeters in length. They can live several months without a blood meal.

Infestations of these insects usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep or spend a significant period of time. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms, reports the CDC.

“Bed bugs are experts at hiding. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, and under any clutter or objects around a bed. Their small flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and they can remain in place for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs can travel over 100 feet in one night, but they tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

On campus, we asked Dean of Students, Dr. Alex Herzog, if USU-CEU has been affected by bed bugs. Dr Herzog stated, “To date no bed bugs have been found on campus. Any student living on campus is advised to contact my office (613-5289) if they think their living area might be at risk.”

The USU-CEU Residence Life maintenance and custodial staff made every effort to ensure that rooms were clean before students moved in. “That was their first and foremost directive and I personally inspected rooms before students moved in.” Dr Herzog said.

“Off campus students that think they had bed bugs should contact their landlords and or the Carbon County Health Department.” Dr. Herzog advised. “The good news is that from what we know of the critters, bed bugs can’t kill you. They will you some stress though!”

The College is working with the County Health Department to get out more information on how to combat these pests. We hope to have that information out very soon.

“Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. Bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they can transport stow-away bed bugs as they travel potentially infesting new areas, including their homes, as they relocate,” according to the CDC.

According to Dean of Students Alex Herzog, USU-CEU has not been affected by bed bugs. He stated, “To date no bed bugs have been found on campus. Any student living on campus is advised to contact my office (613-5289) if they think their living area might be at risk.”

The USU-CEU residence life maintenance and custodial staff make every effort to ensure that rooms were clean before students moved in. “That was their first and foremost directive and I personally inspected rooms before students moved in,” Herzog said.

“Off-campus students who think they have bed bugs should contact their landlords or Carbon County Health Department,” Dr. Herzog advised. “The good news is that from what we know of the critters, bed bugs can’t kill you. They will give you some stress though.”

The college is working with the health department to get out more information on how to combat these pests. We hope to have that information soon.

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