This article and video report from WCBD in Charleston reports that bed bugs have been found at colleges all over Missouri, including Northwest Missouri, Missouri State, and 70 cases at Wichita State.
However, the focus of this article is on the encounter between bed bugs and the University of Central Missouri:
It is a pest unexpected by college administrators.“We didn’t have them until about three years ago,” said Patrick Bradley, director of housing at the University of Central Missouri. At UCM, since the beginning of the last academic year, Bradley confirmed bed bugs in 32 rooms, treating many of them multiple times.
Some parents and students with infested rooms are angry, not only because those bed bugs keep returning, but because in some cases UCM has failed to fulfill it’s pledge to replace infested beds. Students say they discovered the discrepancy by marking their beds before officials displaced them to treat the room for bed bugs. Returning students then looked for their markings when they moved back into their treated rooms. Freshman Lauren Pulse was disturbed with the findings.
“It was the same mattress and the same bed frame,” Pulse said. “You ask them to do something and they don’t,” says freshman Molley Buckley
The university says it has since instituted tighter controls to ensure facilities employees dispose of bed bugs from infested rooms. “What we’re doing right now is everything we know,” Bradley said.
They may take a cue from the University of Florida, which decontaminates students’ infested items by heating them in a makeshift oven. Thermal methods may be very effective for treating mattresses, and would avoid the unnecessary expense of replacing mattresses.
Though I understand that students and parents think replacing beds is the solution, doing so actually does not ensure bed bugs have been removed from the room. If there are bed bugs there which persist after treatment, you may simply be giving them a new home.
Encasements are an option, though they must be treated with care so as not to rip. My own college had sealed mattresses (though I had no idea why at the time), and I wonder if colleges won’t start using these again.
The other thing UCM needs to think about is that experts say as many as 70% of people do not react to bed bug bites. Relying on students to react and then report the problem means many more students may have bed bugs, which feed and breed and spread, unknown to administrators.
It would be in the college’s interest to implement a proactive bed bug detection program. Bed bug sniffing k9s are not 100% accurate, but a good one is likely much more accurate than a human inspector. Texas A&M University has been flying bed bug detection dogs in to check for the pests before students start to complain of bed bug bites or bed bug sightings.