The specter of bed bugs in our workplaces, especially schools, has become an increasing concern. Are bed bugs a health hazard? How hard is it to get rid of them?
Bed bugs, like fleas, lice and ticks, feed off blood; yet, unlike many other pests, they are not known to transmit or spread disease. Their bites can become itchy welts. Challenges to dealing with bed bugs include perceptions that they are found only in dirty places, that one bug means an infestation and that pesticides are an effective way to eliminate them.
The first step is to collect a suspected bug and get it to a trained professional to make sure it is a bed bug.
Here are some tips to control infestations in schools:
- Separate student belongings in cubbies, lockers or containers
- If allowed, do backpack inspections
- Prohibit bedding, toys and pillows from home
- Conduct room inspections
- Improve class/work room sanitation
- Educate staff, students, parents/ guardians
- If there are regular bed bug problems, develop specimen collection, mailing and ID procedure protocols
- Develop classroom cleaning protocols for custodians
- In most cases, a thorough inspection and vacuuming of the room with a HEPA vacuum by a Pest
Management Unit professional is the best treatment when there is not an infestation.
For online resources, visit: www.epa.gov/bedbugs; www.nysipm.cornell.edu/buildings/; www.uft.org/our-rights/bed-bugs.