Stanford: stop those bed bugs! Here’s what you need to do.

by nobugsonme on December 7, 2006 · 3 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, bed bugs in colleges, california, dorms, usa

Well, it isn’t surprising. Even though Stanford admin have been troopers in fighting bed bugs at dorms Lagunita and East Flo, the vampires are now in Alondra.

Freshman Danny Clarkson heard about the infestations other students were suffering, so he and his roommate Alvin got curious:

“Because of it [spreading], we decided to do a thorough cleaning on Saturday afternoon,” he said. “Alvin didn’t find anything, but I found two in my bed frame.” Residents say that exterminator Rich Crane has become a fixture of the dorm.

“I see him all the time – he ate dinner here last night,” Schaffer said.

(Stanford Housing representative) Whitney said that despite the new quarantines, he is confident that the infestation is under control.

“The goal is to stay in front of it,” he said.   “It’s more than we’ve had in recent years, but once you’ve dealt with it, you’re done.”

Well, actually, Whitney (the article did not give a first name or job title), you are incorrect. Unless you’re using Thermapure, or tenting and treating the entire dorm with Vikane Gas, it is very possible that even treated rooms will be infested again. It is also very possible that many students, like Clarkson, have bedbugs but have not seen them or had any itching. Many of us get bitten for months without seeing our first bed bug, so if Clarkson saw two just by looking, we should assume they’re in lots of rooms, but unnoticed. It might be time to have professionals inspect all the rooms. Think of the wonderful treatments you could carry out when everyone is home for the winter break. Think of the chaos that will ensue if the bugs continue to infest the dorms during the break. Here’s what will happen: the bugs will hide out, and get hungrier and hungrier. How long do the kids leave the dorms for? Two weeks, three, four? Upon return, the students will be bitten like crazy, and all the wee eggs laid before the break will have hatched little hungry nymphs. Mom and dad bed bugs will resume procreating and laying more eggs. You’ll quite literally have a feeding frenzy, as anyone with bed bugs who’s gone away on vacation for a few weeks and come home will tell you.

Clarkson said that while he wasn’t particularly pleased to vacate his room, he was glad that he and his roommate reported the infestation. The first students to find bedbugs in their room, he added, were less lucky. Those Alondra residents, whose room had hosted bedbugs since September, are unlikely to have any of their belongings returned to them.

“Crane said that in that room there were two million plus bedbugs and eggs,” said Clarkson, who is staying temporarily in Governor’s Corner.  “Because we reported it early, we’re going to have all of our stuff intact.”

Two million is a lot of bed bugs, even since September. It sounds like Stanford is responding well once they have an infestation reported to them. But they need to be more proactive. Every student (if not professional Pest Control Operators) should be carefully inspecting their rooms. All students should have information packets, and there should be mandatory bed bug talks in the cafeteria before meals or in some other way, students should be required to think about this, look for bugs, and encouraged to report them. They should be educated not just about how to look for bed bugs, and about symptoms, but also about ways of avoiding catching them.

Avoid Bed Bugs:

  • Don’t hesitate to report bed bugs; there is no shame in having them and you can treat them more easily if you catch them early on.
  • Don’t give away or accept gifts of clothing, books, or furnishings of any kind right now from other students.

And Advice for the upcoming vacations:

  • When you go home for the holidays, take your clothes home in a sealed XL ziploc bag; upon arrival, wash and dry everything on hot, immediately.
  • Put your bag in another sealed ziploc and leave it outside if the weather is below freezing, for the duration of your vacation.
  • If you’re in a warmer locale, put it in a freezer if possible, or at least inspect it carefully and bag it while in the home (so at least your family won’t be affected).
  • You can, of course, spread them to others on public transportation and anywhere else the bag goes. Try not to carry other stuff: be minimalist.
  • Order family gifts from amazon or other retailers and have them shipped directly home. This way, you can avoid taking any bugs home you have not realized you have. Remember, the young ones are the size of a speck of dust.

Students who went home for Thanksgiving, but whose rooms at college have been found to have bugs, should make sure that anyone they stayed with during the holidays (or anyone whose car they rode in) checks their home thoroughly; many people do not feel the bites. Some people are not bitten, others can be bitten for months before they suffer a reaction. Anyone who does feel bitten or who thinks he or she sees a bed bug, should call a PCO at once.

1 deb December 7, 2006 at 6:56 am

This is just another example of the horror of these bugs….These kids are transporting the bugs into their family homes. The University took too long to act. They are in good hands, Crane Pest Control is an excellent company, but we all know how insidious this bug is. Short of thermapure and Vikane its going to be near to impossible to bring the population to zero. Now the students are going home for the holidays, only to return with bedbugs !! Hate to be a pessimist but experience has taught me that this bug is extremely difficult to eradicate with the pesticides we have to work with. Good Luck Stanford, you’re going to need it.

2 StanfordProf December 13, 2006 at 1:46 am

Can the infested Stanford students (poor things!) transmit the bugs and infest others in the classroom as well as the classroom itself? I imagine they can hide out in backpacks. I work at Stanford and how come this is the first I have heard about this?

My sister-in-law in Queens has just been infested (from her mother-in-law’s nursing home) and has tranferred the bugs to both of her children before she knew she was infested and they have now transferred the things to their in-laws in New England. This is why I found your site.

So Christmas with the family in New York has been cancelled, and now it seems I could get the bugs by just teaching class here at Stanford??? This is a national nightmare!

3 nobugsonme December 13, 2006 at 2:38 am

Hi StanfordProf– the short answer is, yes they can transmit them. You can get them from sitting on a bus, from a gym locker, a cafe chair, or a desk in a classroom.

The good news for you is that the administration at Stanford seems to be taking as much care as possible once students report infestations. They could probably improve in some ways, but their protocol is better than that I’ve seen described at any other colleges that journalists have covered.

The best thing you can do to halt the spread and make sure students come forward is to talk about bed bugs. Learn what you can, and tell students how to look for them. They must no be afraid to report them–waiting is what causes problems. Good luck.

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