Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bedbugs in college dorms provide a bloody mess

The age-old adage "Sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite" is appropriate considering the current bedbug outbreak in the United States.

Bedbugs are tiny, parasitic insects that feed off of human blood. They live in mattresses, couches, carpets, clothes and other places that may provide them a host.

The exact origin of bedbugs is unknown, but it is possible that the early English colonists who settled in the United States brought them. Techletter, a training letter for pest control technicians, said that one-third of all English colonies had bedbug infestations, but Native American villages did not have the problem.

Though DDT eradicated the pests from most developed countries, including the U.S., by the 1950s, bedbugs have recently made a comeback. Invading everything from movie theaters and federal government buildings to college dorm rooms and hotels, the tiny insects are presenting a problem as to how to get rid of them.

Because they feed off of human blood, bedbug extermination is a tough task. They are hard to spot and have become immune to extermination methods and chemicals. Most often, bedbugs hide in mattresses and feed during the night. When a person is asleep, the bugs crawl out of hiding and inject a slight anesthetic into the spot where they will bite. This keeps the host from waking or feeling the bedbug feeding off of them.

In September, students at Reinhardt University in Cherokee County found bedbugs in one of their dorms. The students living in the building, all male, spent the night in the university's gymnasium while pest control specialists quarantined their rooms and belongings.

Though bedbugs were found in only two rooms, the university steam-cleaned every room in the dormitory building and had all of the other buildings on campus checked as well.

Reinhardt is not the only college with a bedbug infestation. There have been confirmed infestations in dorms at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Catawba College in North Carolina, Wake Forest University and the University of Colorado at Boulder.

There are precautions that students may take in order to prevent a bedbug outbreak in their dorms or apartments. Most of the time, bedbugs spread when people travel. When traveling, carefully inspect the bed and sheets in hotel rooms. Look for small bloodstains and check all cracks and crevices in the mattress.

Keeping all suitcases and clothing off of the floor may keep bedbugs from hiding in clothes and suitcase crevices. Wash all of belongings in the hottest water possible upon returning home. Bedbugs cannot survive in extremely hot temperatures.

When buying clothing or furniture secondhand, inspect it thoroughly. Check every nook and cranny for bedbugs and their eggs. That $20 couch may seem great at the time, but it defeats the purpose when it costs hundreds of dollars to get rid of bedbugs.

There are a few signs that prove a bedbug infestation. The first is red, itchy bumps on the body. These spots indicate where the bedbug has fed and are similar to a mosquito bite. Since bedbugs are filled with blood, their bodies burst easily. They leave small blood and feces stains where they infest. Last, bedbugs shed their exoskeletons as they grow, so they leave those behind.

There have not been any reported cases of bedbugs anywhere on the Georgia State campus. For suspected bedbug cases in on-campus housing, the Panther Resident's Guide to Community Living says to contact your Hall Director or place a TMA work order.

Sourced By: Suchi Sajja