College Planning & Management

AUG 2012

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>> Maintenance, Repair & Custodial Care campus, it's imperative administrators act quickly to remedy the problem. What Are Bed Bugs? Adult bed bugs resemble a fl at apple seed, while hatchlings are so small they can pass through a stitch-hole in a mattress. These pests feed on human blood and are found wherever people are, often hiding in spots humans can't see. The bugs most often feed at night, as they are drawn to the steady stream of carbon dioxide people ex- hale during sleep. What makes these pests especially problematic is the fact that they are elusive and breed quickly. A female bed bug can lay one to fi ve eggs in a day and more than 500 in a lifetime. Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers and are easily transported from one place to another. They will hide in suitcases, boxes, and shoes to be near a food supply. They like to hide in small cracks and crevices close to a human environment. Although bed bugs are most often found on mat- tresses, box springs, and headboards, they also go beyond the bed. These pests can also hide behind baseboards, wallpaper, upholstery, picture frames, electrical switch plates, and in furniture crevices. Telltale signs of a bed bug infestation include small red to reddish-brown fecal spots on mattresses, upholstery, or walls, as well as shed bed bug skins and white, sticky eggs or empty eggshells. Very heav- ily infested areas may have a characteristi- cally sweet odor and victims of bites may exhibit red, itchy bite marks, especially on the legs, arms, and other body parts that are exposed while sleeping. Responding to a Bed Bug Incident A bed bug infestation on a college campus can generate anxiety among students, parents, and staff and tarnish the reputation of a school if the situation is not handled properly. For example, earlier this year, a university in the Midwest found out exactly what can happen if a bed bug problem is not handled properly. BY THE BOOK Guidelines for Dealing With a Bed Bug Problem The NPMA recommends the following guidelines when responding to a possible bed bug incident: • If the bugs are discovered in a residence hall, do not try to hide the problem from residents. In a close living environment, there is a possibility the infestation has gone beyond one room. • If bed bugs are found in one residence hall room, adjacent rooms and those below and above the infested room should be inspected immediately. • Avoid blaming or stigmatizing those students in whose room the infestation may have originated. Discretely remove those students from the residence hall and perform further checks for bed bugs in their clothes or possessions. • If possible, collect a specimen so a pest management professional can verify whether it is a bed bug. • Arrange for an inspection by a pest professional experienced in bed bug control (if not already under contract). Document exactly where the problem was fi rst discov- ered. The pest professional may use a certifi ed bed bug scent detection canine team to aid in the inspection. • If a bed bug infestation is confi rmed, disclose it to parents, students, staff, and oth- ers who may have been in the proximity of the affected area or may be affected. • Talk with the pest management professional about the variety of treatments avail- able in order to be consistent with the college's integrated pest management (IPM) guidelines and regulations. • Prepare staff and students for the possibility of several courses of treatment over a period of several months, as bed bug infestations often take several treatments and periodic checks to ensure the problem has been eliminated. According to the university's newspa- per, rumors of bed bug problems spread across campus. A resident adviser told the newspaper that she informed the universi- ty's housing administration about bed bugs in her room and alleged that she was told not to inform her fl oor about the problem. The university eventually used bed-bug sniffi ng dogs to search all the rooms and treated nearly 200 for bed bugs. Addi- tionally, the school established a website providing bed bug information, preven- tion, and detection tips and daily updates about the bed bug issue on campus. These were all the right steps, but they came after rumors and speculation were rampant among the students. Much of this could've 32 COLLEGE PLANNING & MANAGEMENT / AUGUST 2012 been avoided if the university had a proac- tive bed bug plan and open communica- tion with the student body from the start. College administrators should be mindful of college students' proclivity for sharing information via social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, which allow rumors to quickly spread across a campus and beyond. As bed bug incidents on college cam- puses continue to occur, it's essential for college administrators to develop a "bed bug action plan" so that they are prepared to respond to problems as they arise. The written plan should educate staff, faculty members, and students about basic bed bug biology and habits (especially their WWW.PLANNING4EDUCATION.COM

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