There are a lot of reports about bed bugs in colleges this week, in the wake of the recent high profile John Jay College bed bug infestation (and the less high profile Manhattan College bed bug troubles).
The Loyola Phoenix reports that Loyola University in Chicago was treating bed bugs with steam and pesticides, encasing infested mattresses, and (students claim) telling them not to talk about their infestations:
In addition to the rooms being treated, items that were on top of beds or on the floor near the beds were removed from the rooms to be cleaned. According to [Andrew Naylor, assistant director of Facilities Operations], these items were taken to a company that specializes in cleaning items that housed bedbugs or came into contact with them.
Throughout the process, residents affected by the bedbug incident were communicated with on a consistent basis, said Naylor; however, residents on other floors were not informed of the incident. “It’s certainly not like we’re trying to keep a secret. We just didn’t feel it was necessary to alarm the whole building,” said Naylor.
[Juniors Mike Fernandez and Eric Finnegan] said they were informed to not talk about the incident. “They told us ‘don’t say anything,’ because they didn’t want to start a mass panic and have all the students worry, which is understandable until they got the problem under control,” Fernandez said.
Bedbugs live in both the seams of and in the crisscross stitching of mattresses. They are visible by pulling down on the edge of the cording.
However, as we understand it, Steri-Fab is not recommended as a sole treatment option (Dr. Michael Potter found Steri-Fab had a “very low egg mortality”) , and bed bugs can live anywhere in a room, not just on the seams of mattresses.
The most encouraging story this week comes from Boston University, where the Daily Free Press reports that housing officials proactively searched on-campus housing for bed bugs in August.
Boston University housing officials have identified the bedbug infestation in dormitories such as Student Village and Myles-Standish Hall as a serious concern within the last year.
The infestations don’t just occur in older dormitories — they can show up in any building, new or old. There were five StuVi1 apartments infested with bedbugs at the start of the academic year, Director of Housing Marc Robillard said.
“Bedbugs travel with people. It has nothing to do with hygiene,” he said. “Some of the nicest hotels in the world have bedbugs because of the transition of people coming into their properties.”
In August, housing officials checked each of the larger residences for bedbugs after the dorms housed different groups during the summer, Robillard said. Housing officials said they are currently unaware of any active cases on campus.
Sargent College of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences graduate student Emily Wilkinson said she found out her four-bedroom StuVi apartment, which she shared with roommates last year, was one of the five infested.
“I guess they found the bedbugs when they were doing an inspection so they didn’t want to put us [in our apartment],” she said. “They moved us into StuVi 2 and told us it would take two weeks for the whole process to happen. It took more than three, which was annoying.”
There’s no guarantee that bed bugs can be eliminated in two or three weeks, and it would be interesting to know how the college performs these proactive bed bug inspections and how it signs off on housing units as being bed bug-free after bed bug treatment.
However, it is a good idea for colleges to have residences proactively inspected for bed bugs; remember, not everyone reacts to bed bug bites, and it can take some time before one sees obvious signs of a bed bug infestation.