Bed bugs at college: SUNY Potsdam

by nobugsonme on September 21, 2008 · 1 comment

in bed bug bites, bed bug treatment, bed bugs, bed bugs and students, bed bugs in colleges, dorms

The Racquette, the student newspaper at SUNY Potsdam, reports a bed bug infestation in the college was believed to have affected only one dorm room on the fifth floor of Bowman South.

Eric Duchscherer, Director of Residence Life, sent an e-mail to residential students the evening of the discovery, Tuesday September 9.

“We have quickly taken action to address the situation. Both mattresses, beds and sets of linens from from the room have been removed and destroyed. An exterminator has inspected the room and sprayed to kill any remaining bugs,” stated Duchscherer.

Rooms in the nearby rooms and adjacent floors were inspected on Wednesday, September 10. No more bedbugs were found.

Duchscherer’s e-mail to students contained detailed information on bedbugs and avoiding bedbug outbreaks.

I applaud the Director of Residence Life for telling all residential students about this issue, so they can all be aware of the problem. I am concerned, though, that students may not be getting detailed enough information. Duchsherer’s email included the following statement:

“Bedbugs are small, flat, oval, wingless insects (about one-fifth of an inch in length) that are visible to the naked eye …”

However, only the largest life stage, adult bed bugs, are this big. First instar bed bug nymphs are 1/32 inch long and translucent until fed. Very hard to spot.

It’s important to know this, and it is also important to know that many people, if not a majority of people, do not react to bed bug bites.

It was good that the response was swift and that adjacent units were inspected, but I am slightly concerned that the story implies everyone expects one treatment to be enough — we’re told it typically is not.

I am also surprised that a college would throw out the mattresses and beds, as well as bed linens (which can be easily washed and dried on hot, killing all bed bugs and eggs). Mattresses and beds can be treated, and mattresses encased.

It also isn’t clear whether other items in the room were carefully inspected and treated. Bed bugs don’t just live in beds.

Still, I hope that the problem has been completely cleared up and that students learned something about how to avoid and detect bed bugs.

You can read the full story in The Racquette.

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