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Library temporarily shuts down for bed bug prevention

Published 12/6/18

Austin Headlee

TNE Writer

Students are not the only ones staying up for late-night study sessions in the library. A bedbug was found in the library Monday, Nov. 26 which caused the library to be shut down on Friday, Nov. 30.

Bedbugs are small, brown insects that feed off the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bedbugs can live for several months without a blood meal, according the Cherokee Nation Office of Environmental Health. While bedbugs are not known to spread diseases they can cause allergic reactions and are notoriously difficult to get rid of.

It is unclear who first found the bedbug, but the library knew about the finding for four days before closing the building down Friday evening at the end of their normal business hours.

The first floor of the library, where the bedbug was found, was sprayed and treated Saturday, Dec. 1 to prevent more bedbugs from staying in the library.

“Maintenance tries to stay on top of it,” said Steven Edscorn, Library executive director. “Pests are bad for books, too, in addition to people.”

Dr. Pamela Fly, Academic Affairs associate vice president, sent an email to the students and employees stating the library would temporarily be closed due to “unexpected maintenance” with no mention of the pests.

“The primary purpose of the campus-wide email was to let students know as quickly as possible that the library would be closed on Saturday, Dec. 1 so they could plan accordingly,” said Fly. “The closure was precipitated by a student report to a staff member that s/he had found a bedbug in his/her backpack. There was no indication of an infestation in the area, but the library was closed and sprayed as a precaution.”

Bedbugs try to find warm, suitable living conditions as the weather gets colder in winter, so the pests will try to find new homes inside buildings. Any resident who finds evidence of bedbugs in their belongings or living areas should notify someone in the housing department. The housing department has a set protocol to handle infestations.

“We have a set protocol for it, so when we discover something we get in there and take care of it,” said Craig Reinehr, Housing and Residence Life director. “But, it is hinged upon the resident’s talks. Some people have been embarrassed because they think they may have brought it in from somewhere and that just exasperates the issue. So, it’s important for residents to report.”

The first part of the two-step protocol the housing department is identifying the infestation. The housing and custodial staff investigate the rooms once the housing staff is informed of a possible infestation. Both staffs have been trained to identify evidence of bedbug infestations.

The second step of the protocol starts when the infestation has been confirmed. The residents of the dorm take all of their items that can be laundered out of the room in sealed trash bags and wash and dry them at an off-campus site. They move to a temporary room until an outside company can treat the infested room. The outside company comes in to re-check the infested room in 24 hours and if the room is clear the resident is allowed to move back in. The outside company also treats the room the resident temporarily stayed in. The rooms adjacent to the infested room receive the same treatment as the infested room.

Bedbugs can be picked up while traveling on public transport and staying in hotels. The Cherokee Nation Office of Environmental Health recommends travelers to inspect their luggage after traveling. Bedbugs can crawl up to 20 feet to feed, so reducing clutter around sleeping quarters provide less places for bedbugs to hide.

There are other ways to get rid of bedbugs for off campus residents. All cloth and items that can be laundered should be washed and dried with high heat once an infestation becomes known.

“Bed bug eggs must be exposed to 118°F for 90 minutes to reach 100 percent mortality,” according to Cherokee Nation Office of Environmental Health. “Adult bed bugs will die within twenty minutes if exposed to 118°F. Heat treatments have been successful if properly done.”

For more information on how to treat or prevent bedbug infestations, visit www.cherokeepublichealth.org.

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