New York City public schools continue to be treated for bed bugs

by nobugsonme on January 18, 2007 · 11 comments

in bed bug education, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, bed bugs and children, bed bugs and students, bed bugs in schools, bed bugs in the workplace, government, misinformation, new york, new york city

A new article in the Queens Gazette yesterday reported on the ongoing infestation in Queens, NYC public schools. This is an update to previous accounts of bed bugs in the NYC public schools (and not, I might add, just in Queens).

The current article states,

Efforts to combat bedbugs in seven District 30 schools have been under way over the last few months. “We’ve been having a big incidence of bedbugs,” said Jeannie Tsvaris-Basini, president of Community Education Council District 30 at the January council meeting, held at P.S. 222 in Jackson Heights.

Reporting on a meeting she had on January 5 with the pest management contractor handling the matter for the Department of Education, Tsvaris-Basini said there are still problems with bedbugs in the seven affected schools, P.S. 212 and P.S. 69 in Jackson Heights, P.S. 112, P.S. 111 and P.S. 166 in Long Island City, P.S. 152 in Woodside and P.S. 234 in Astoria. “Problems keep cropping up,” said Tsvaris-Basini. She said the contractor indicated the bedbugs may be growing immune to the chemical currently used to control them.

Bed bugs were first reported in NYC public school disctrict 30 on October 5, 2006 (which isn’t to say they were not there much longer).

Like most articles in the press, this one contained some inaccuracies:

District 30 Superintendent Dr. Philip Composto said several classrooms have been affected at P.S. 234. “[Bedbugs] are not like roaches. They affix themselves to people,” he said. But Composto said pest management efforts could only be conducted one classroom at a time.

Well, yes, Dr. Composto, they do affix themselves to people. But only for a few minutes while they dine on our blood. They certainly don’t travel into schools attached to children’s skin, the way lice or body lice or scabies might.

Instead, they “hitchhike” on our clothing, in bags, and in books.

And, though this article is not incorrect in saying that

Bedbugs are probably carried into classrooms in infested school bags or clothing and then can travel between classrooms in small crevices and through cracks in walls and floors.

… it should also be acknowledged that bed bugs can be carried into schools on the clothing and in the bags of school employees, contractors, and delivery people. Even, dare I say it, Principals who live in tonier neighborhoods and nice buildings.

And, even more importantly, they don’t just get carried into schools. They get carried out. So now every family member of every student, teacher, administrator, staff member, and visitor, may be taking these bed bugs home. If you see some bed bugs, you have lots, lots more hiding away unseen, biting you and others in classes and offices, and hitching a ride home in your bag or briefcase. Everyone involved in the school should be warned.

The article noted that

Any bug found is put in a bag and sent to the Department of Health (DOH) for confirmation of its species. “They determine if it is a bedbug,” said Composto. If there is a positive identification, letters are sent home informing parents. “Everything in the affected classroom has to be bagged, coats, bags, etc.,” he said.

This sounds promising, though it still is not clear if the NYCDOE policy is atill in place that schools need only contact the parents of the “affected” student, as was reported by the same paper in December.   But bed bugs cannot be seen as “affecting” only the person they’re found on or near.  This is ridiculous–these are not lice.  If a bed bug is in a child’s desk, a teacher’s bag, or laying eggs in a library book, it affects the entire school and everyone in it, and everyone who lives with those people.  Saying one child is “affected” because the bed bug was found on them, would be like saying only that child was “affected” by a roach that crawled up its leg.  The school has bed bugs (as it would be the school that had roaches).

I really hope that schools are now notifying all employees and all families every time a bed bug is seen. And I hope they’re doing a lot more than that: the school administrators need to take this moment to educate parents on where to get resources on how to search for and identify bed bugs, and what to do if they’re found at home.

I fear that they actually believe these bed bugs are only going in the one direction, which is absurd.

1 Bugalina January 18, 2007 at 3:36 pm

I just left a comment hours ago about the comunicable nature of the bed bug…I can’t locate it…but its speaks to the huge problem of this bug…It is ” catchy”..and that’s what makes it so insidious. I don’t want to go through life tip toeing around bed bugs, but I don’t want to go thru continuous exterminations either. In these schools where bugs have been found…how can they guarantee to the parents that their children will not carry home a bug on them. How can they possibly deal with it !!! We bed bug victims, all know that given the nature of a school, where young children come and go, with backpacks and heavy coats and some coming from homes where extermination is not financially viable…they cannot be “dealt with”….unless the classrooms are being vacuumed hourly…exterminated constantly and childrens belongings are being quarantined……Otherwise…How can you prevent bed bugs from ” digging in” and finding lots of blood….Just another example of the nightmare of this bug…

2 allergicgirl January 18, 2007 at 3:46 pm

i feel like bloomberg should get on this. we always hear about boston’s successes with eradicating bed bugs, and nyc is out of control. should we start a petition..something to get his attention?

3 Bugalina January 18, 2007 at 9:10 pm

allergicgirl….We have to do something…..because bed bugs go to the heart of one’s quality of life…It is impossible to function at an optimal level when your home is infested with bed bugs…this is a fact that seems to be escaping the brains of people who could help us ……There is so much ignorance about bed bugs…people need government to step in and give public service information. But government won’t do it because they have no truly effective tools to kill bed bugs…sure the exterminators will try and say otherwise…sure..thousands of dollars later and half your home thrown away or packed up….maybe then you’ve got a chance…or if you live alone with just an air bed and a lamp…maybe then you can get rid of them….I find this whole situation deplorable and horrible…..Bugalina

4 buggedinbrooklyn January 21, 2007 at 4:51 pm

Bloomberg? do something besides ridiculing us? ROTFLMAO

speaking of ridiculing…
am I the only one who is seeing every newspaper, and news organization, making a mockery out of the VICTIMS of bedbug infestations?
when are they going to learn that it’s not just the bites that send us off the deap end of a cliff?
and we are telling them, the news organizations, that they can treat us like freaks….by saying nothing.
would a victim of 911 stand for such treatment if the village voice allowed such ridicule to emanate throughout an article? or would a law suit follow?
hmmm, I wonder….


5 nobugsonme January 21, 2007 at 5:12 pm

Absolutely. The best thing people can do is write letters to the editors of publications when they print these kinds of articles.
Several of us wrote in response to the Village Voice article, though none of our letters were printed.
If enough people respond, they may take notice.

6 Bugalina January 22, 2007 at 11:27 am

buggedinbrooklyn you make a good point…I think the biggest problem with public awareness is that the message that the academic community is pushing is that so far, bed bugs have not proven to be a physical health threat, ( however they never comment on the excrement, just the bugs themselves )…and then gov’t. officials use this to try and calm people..BUT…what they don’t realize is that having bugs come out to suck your blood is something that can drive people crazy..AND ….that getting rid of them is so very difficult and expensive and takes a long time in most cases…Yes…eventually I hope they can be brought down to a zero population..but just read all of the experiences…this is not an easy task…and that’s what is not being conveyed to the public….so much denial…the media should be helping us…but their ignorance drives them to say foolish things…It is unfortunate……..Bugalina

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