Bed Bugs Plague North Carolina College

Bed bug infestations are becoming increasingly more prevalent and pest control companies are reporting significant increases in bedbug-related calls. Now, in addition to turning up in hotels; motels; theatres; offices; dressing rooms; and, most recently, even hospitals, the tiny bloodsucking parasites are showing up in schools. According to WSOCTV, classrooms and dormitories at North Carolina’s Catawba College were inspected for bedbugs this morning.

Over 100 students were evacuated yesterday following reports of an infestation, said WSOCTV. After exterminators treated five buildings, the students were allowed to return on Wednesday evening, WSOCTV added.

An exterminator involved in treating the infestation said that inspecting all of the campus buildings was a wise move, noting that if bedbugs are in dorms, then they are likely to be found in classrooms, wrote WSOCTV. Bedbugs are known to travel in luggage, furniture, and clothing. Once they infiltrate, they are extremely difficult to eradicate.

“It takes a little bit of time away from papers and stuff that we need to be doing,” said Amanda Williams, a junior at the college, quoted WSOCTV. “We’re now worried about washing everything and keeping everything clean instead of, you know, our test that’s tomorrow,” she added. Katie Walter, a freshman, told WSOCTV that she had not returned to her room since Monday, when she first saw bedbugs. Since, she has done over a dozen loads of laundry in attempts to remove the pests from her clothes and possessions. “I’ve been living out of trash bags…. All my clothes are in trash bags. I don’t know where anything’s at. It’s been a stressful week,” quoted WSOCTV.

“I need a book out of my room, which I can’t get, so I guess I’ll just have to do that homework another day,” Lorrin Howard said to WSOCTV, discussing her inability to get her work completed on time.

The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky report a 25-percent increase in bedbug infestations in the past 10 years, according to Market Watch, which noted that resolving an infestation can cost thousands of dollars in funds that are not always covered by insurance.

The NPMA advises consumers that bedbugs are: “Flat, brownish or reddish bugs that grow to the size of an apple seed. The marks they typically leave, spots of blood and fecal matter, can look like pepper flakes,” Missy Henriksen, NPMA spokeswoman said, quoted Market Watch. Diligently inspect rooms for bedbugs and stains they leave on bed sheets; keep possessions off the floor; clean bags and clothing immediately upon arriving home, washing items in hot water and ensuring to dry the items in the dryer, where the high heat can kill bedbugs, said NPMA.

Many believe the growing problem could be tied to increased travel and the reduced use of powerful pesticides like dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), which was banned in the 1960s, as well as the use of narrow spectrum products targeting specific pests, allowing others to survive. Worse, bedbugs appear to be developing pesticide resistance, leading the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to issue a warning against using outdoor chemicals indoors, said The New Star. Some can have adverse effects on the central nervous system and can cause skin and eye irritation and cancer.

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