Long-time readers of Bedbugger.com are familiar with this scenario:
- Local media reports that some local venue (e.g. a school, office or store) was shut down, briefly, due to a bed bug infestation.
- Pest control professionals have dutifully “treated” the place.
- The business owner or a local official reassures that “there’s no public health hazard”.
This ‘blog has often scratched its head (and arms and neck) wondering how – when bed bug infestations in homes often take weeks and multiple treatments to clear – anyone can feel confident that a bed bug infestation has been cleared in a public place, in one treatment.
There’s the ever present suspicion that the manager is giving his/her best guess, or is taking advantage of the one fact that health department officials repeatedly assure us of: “Bed Bugs are not known to transmit disease.”
Today’s exhibit is the public library in Longmont, Colorado (USA), as highlighted by forum veteran “kirads09″.
According to the Longmont Times-Call, bed bugs were found on Thursday, August 18th in five out of six chairs suspected of harboring them, in two areas of the library. Staff members, who had received “bed bug training” in recent months, suspected the infestation and brought in the pros. The library remained open, while the chairs were placed off limits for treatment.
The local Terminix affiliate treated the chairs with “Mr Freeze” (frozen CO2) and the library opened for business as usual on Friday, August 19th. Interestingly, library staff, working under the pest professionals’ direction, assisted in inspecting other areas of the library. A follow-up canine inspection is planned.
A sign on the library door greeted patrons on Friday morning, stating
Please be aware that an exterminator confirmed bed bugs in 5 upholstered chairs. The bedbugs have been eradicated.
And yet we know that one treatment is often not enough to eliminate bed bugs with many methods (and frozen CO2, which is also marketed as Cryonite, is included).
As a practical matter, it’s implied from the article that a very short period of time passed from the chairs’ isolation to their treatment. Libraries and other public facilities should note that storing or cordoning off infested furniture or areas carries the risk of bed bugs’ escaping to other parts of the building and exacerbating the problem.
Bedbugger forum participant “kirads09” questioned whether the library should have remained open pending treatment. An infestation in a public place like a library presents a dilemma: as the bed bug epidemic spreads and bed bugs are found in more public places, can we “drop everything” and shut down facilities for inspection and treatment? Do we close the library for treatment the second time bed bugs are found? How about the third and fourth? Can we continue to assume that bed bugs are isolated to certain libraries or can it be reasonably inferred that every library – which can serve hundreds of patrons a week and whose “product” is in and out of its customers’ homes, some with bed bed bug infestations – has (or will soon have) some bed bugs, somewhere on the premises?
How do we continue, as a civilized society, to maintain our civic facilities and the “third places” where people meet and learn and where communities are built? Will we need to shut down (and perhaps shun) each and every public library when we find bed bugs in its chairs, or like the staff of the Longmont library, can we all benefit from “bed bug training” to enhance our awareness of the likely bed bug presence in any major public facility, and to protect ourselves individually and collectively?
Your comments on these issues are welcome below.
The following video from the Times-Call features library users’ reactions to the news about the bed bugs in their local library.
If the YouTube video is not embedded above, you can view it on the Times-Call’s website.
Alas, the bed bugs at the Longmont Library appear not to have been cleared up in that one treatment.
CBS reports that a local bed bug canine has detected bed bugs in nine chairs at the library, including two of those previously treated for bed bugs.
If you’re keeping count, that means seven chairs either had bed bugs which weren’t detected the first time, or they have been infested since the first treatment. A total of twelve chairs have been found to be infested in total.
This raises some interesting questions about how bed bugs got into twelve different chairs — apparently without infesting any other areas. Is there an erstwhile heavily-infested Bed Bug Mary, or Larry, camping out in different chairs on different days?
The article mentions that the library is working on an ongoing inspection program. That’s good news!
It does not mention if the canine team hired visually verifies dog alerts (see our FAQ on canine scent detection for more on this).