In this week in which bed bugs have reared their ugly heads in New York City Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch stores, and in the CBS offices in New York (and many other workplaces elsewhere, to judge by the sampling in our Forums), it is a good time to focus our attention on the challenges and best practices for fighting bed bugs in the workplace.
Larry Pinto, Richard Cooper, and Sandra Kraft are authors of a supplement published in the Feburary 2010 PCT magazine, entitled, “Bed Bugs in Office Buildings: the Ultimate Challenge?”
The supplement was sponsored by a manufacturer (MKG) — which many of us know as the maker of Bedlam, among other products — but don’t let the sponsor’s message put you off. The article proper is sandwiched between several pages of advertising or sponsor’s message, but pages 3-9 provide solid information both for pest management professionals and for office managers (and I appreciate that this is done without reference to specific brands or products).
The authors highlight the special challenges of fighting bed bugs in the workplace, where bed bug behavior is different, and detection and treatment require a different approach than the home infestation. It also goes into ethical and legal issues related to a workplace infestation.
I appreciated the emphasis on not playing the “bed bug blame game,” which often ends up being a highlight of news coverage of workplace bed bug infestations. Typically, the employee who discovered the infestation, or one with a known infestation at home, or one employee who sits near a detected harborage, is singled out as the “source;” in some cases, the individual is fired. Detecting the actual source of an infestation is often much more complicated and can be difficult if not impossible. It’s much better not to go there.
One question I had was not about the office setting per se, but is related to the article’s information on canine detection. The article emphasizes the use of “random blind verification” in canine detection — whereby two separate bed bug canine/handler teams inspect the premises independently, searching the same areas, but without knowing where the other dog alerted. If both teams alert to the same spot, the alert is “confirmed;” if one team alerts and not the other, the area is “suspect.”
While this does seem like a promising method of verifying dog alerts, we often hear bed bug experts such as Michael Potter of the University of Kentucky calling for visual verification (where a canine handler searches for visual evidence after a dog alerts). It might be helpful in future to have the relative effectiveness of these two verification methods studied by researchers.
Although the article focuses on an office setting which may differ from other workplace settings in some ways, many of the issues and challenges faced by managers, employees and pest management professionals are the same regardless of the type of workplace.
This document could be a big help for anyone trying to convince their boss to take a workplace infestation seriously and handle it promptly and properly. (It’s being added to our links/resources page, for future reference.)
You can download this article in PDF form from the PCT website.
Thanks to Rick Cooper of Bed Bug Central for bringing this helpful document to my attention.