Bed bugs were found last week in a Hamilton, New Jersey elementary school; the entire building was inspected and two classrooms were treated on Saturday, March 26th.
Township officials recently completed the extermination of bedbugs at the Langtree Elementary school in two classrooms. Officials said that as a precaution, the entire building was inspected.
Students, on Friday, were sent home with letters detailing an infestation of “classroom No. 1 and possibly No. 12.”
“As a precaution the entire building will also be inspected at this time and appropriate action will be taken if necessary. This work will be performed on Saturday, March, 26 between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. No children will be present at the time of application,” the notice read.
It sounds like classroom number 1 is known to be infested, and classroom number 12 is possibly infested.
It’s good that parents were notified of the bed bug problem. However, there’s no word on whether parents and staff were also notified that their homes were at risk, or about the steps they should take to make sure they don’t have bed bugs at home.
Anyone in the school’s community (staff, students, visitors, or even vendors) could potentially have brought bed bugs into the school, and anyone could potentially have taken them out, infesting vehicles, homes, or other workplaces. The only thing that’s certain is that the bed bugs spread to the school from another location, brought in via people or stuff.
Parents and staff need to be educated about the signs of bed bugs (besides bed bug bites — since everyone does not react to them). They need to know what to look for. (Detection is often difficult, and this FAQ suggests some options.)
And because too many people react by setting off bug bombs or using OTC remedies, they need to be educated about the difficulty of getting rid of an infestation, and the need for proper treatment. We know bug bombs are a bad idea where bed bugs are concerned, since they can make problems worse. And OTC remedies aren’t likely to solve the problem.
The article also does not indicate whether any follow-up inspections and treatments of Langtree Elementary are planned at this point, but a common protocol is to have a follow-up inspection and treatment (if necessary) in approximately two weeks. One treatment with traditional sprays and dusts is usually not enough to eliminate all bed bugs and eggs.
The comments on The Trentonian article are a reminder of how ignorant the public is about bed bugs. For example, PeterP writes,
Bedbugs by their very name reside in bedding of some sort. Where in a classroom could they live and hide? Do children sleep there too?
In fact, bed bugs don’t just live in bedding or near beds, and can infest any type of location. They can live anywhere from the building structure (for example, cracks, floors, and baseboards) to items of furniture (desks, chairs), and will happily feed on people during the daytime if they have no other options.
Comments like this remind us that although word is spreading about bed bugs, much more needs to be done to educate the public about how to avoid them, how to get rid of them, and how to stop their spread.