Bed bugs at Maryland’s Hashawha Environmental Center

by nobugsonme on June 20, 2008 · 1 comment

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, maryland, mattresses

Bed bugs at summer camp? It’s that time again!

Hashawha Environmental Center, a retreat center and camp in Maryland
, is dealing with a bed bug infestation. One cabin has been found to contain bed bugs.

According to the Carroll County Times,

Jeff Degitz, director of the Carroll County Department of Recreation and
Parks . . . . said letters have been sent home to the parents of all the campers who are staying at Hashawha this week, and parents of anyone who stayed at the center since June 1 are also being notified.

That’s good news: parents of recent campers should be notified so they can inspect their homes and have them treated if necessary. (I would personally go back more than 2.5 weeks and also notify earlier guests, however.)

I hope parents were also given some information about searching for signs of bed bugs, and what to do if they’re found.

The description of treatment in the infested cabin raises some questions for me:

Since the discovery, Degitz said, an exterminator has been to the cabin and treated the area with pesticide.

The cabin will be closed until July 6, and all of the mattresses with bed bugs on them have been thrown away, Degitz said.

We are told that it’s very difficult to get rid of bed bugs in one pesticide treatment. Bed bugs often infest rooms, not just mattresses and bed frames. I hope the room has been carefully inspected.

Also, throwing away mattresses is not necessary and not really a good idea. Doing so doesn’t necessarily remove bed bugs from the location, and mattresses can be salvaged with a good encasement.

Not tossing out the mattress also saves the camp’s neighbors from becoming infested, since someone will inevitably pick that mattress up for re-use or sale.

People who run camps (like hotel and hospital managers) need to devise a system for inspecting for signs of bed bugs. Visitors will bring bed bugs to camp, and other campers will bring them home.

And nobody wants to go to Camp It-Chee-Scrah-Chee.


Update: The Baltimore Sun says eight “affected” mattresses were removed. The Baltimore Sun also clarifies why only those families whose kids stayed in the camp’s five cabins since 6/1 were notified:

The Carroll County Health Department, which inspected the cabin two weeks ago and found no bedbugs at that time, was notified of the insects’ presence, according to the news release.

I wonder if this was a routine inspection?

Finally, this second article tells us:

Campers were advised to wash all bedclothes, including sleeping bags, in hot, soapy water, and dry them in a hot dryer for at least 20 minutes, according to the news release. Temperatures of at least 140 degrees kill the bugs.

Not bad advice, except that a sleeping bag is a very thick item. Twenty minutes in a dryer is unlikely to kill bed bugs in a wet sleeping bag (maybe not even in a dry one).

1 nobugsonme June 20, 2008 at 12:33 pm

More (identical) stories here, here, and here.

The problem with this kind of media attention to such an announcement is this: parents will be in a tizzy about kids going to camp at Hashawha. When actually, parents of kids at every summer camp should be assuming that their kids’ camps might have bed bugs. Because I wuold guess that in most cases, there’s no press release.

It’s worth asking camp directors whether their staff are trained to inspect for bed bugs, whether they’ve considered using mattress encasements, and whether professionals give the rooms an inspection for bed bugs periodically. It’s also worth taking precautions when junior comes home after the summer. The travel faqs have a section on how to avoid bringing bed bugs home. Duffel bags, soft backpacks, and clothing can be washed and dried, sleeping bags can be carefully treated, and other items can be inspected in an attempt to avoid bringing home any hitchhiking bed bugs.

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