Colleges Need To Be Vigilant Against Bed Bugs

It is no secret that college campuses are ground zero for bed bugs. In fact, the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) continues to battle the campus-wide bed bug infestation with officials stating that 124 dorm rooms tested positive for bed bugs. According to a recent article, treatment for each dorm costs about $1,000, and the university said it is only a third of the way through inspections.

The new infestations were apparently found as part of the school’s effort to wipe out the bugs and curb their spread after students reported finding the bugs in January when they returned from winter break. With spring break approaching, officials are trying to finish treatment soon in order to make sure the work that’s already been done isn’t undone.

“The number of bed bug infestations being reported seems extremely high based upon all of our experiences with large universities,” said Jeffrey White, technical director of BedBug Central.

Recently, the Associated Press reported that the bugs were first reported on campus last June, when they turned up in a laboratory on the third floor of Nebraska Hall that is used as office space for the College of Engineering. The January dorm infestation reports first came from two students who said they noticed bedbugs when they returned to their ninth floor room in Abel Hall from winter break.

“Institutions of higher education can best serve their students by having proactive, reactive, and follow-up protocols in place,” said White. “These protocols should clearly outline the steps that all involved parties should take to prevent an infestation or the spread of an existing one.”

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, bed bugs are increasingly becoming a problem within residences of all kinds, including homes, apartments, hotels, cruise ships, dormitories, and shelters. Colleges and universities need to develop policies on how to manage and mitigate infestations if and when they occur. And once a policy is in place, students, parents, and residence life should all be equally educated on the different aspects of bed bugs biology and behavior, prevention and treatment methods.

New Jersey-based Rutgers University, one institution that has recognized the need for bed bug policy and education on its campus, provides students with a downloadable PDF Bed Bug Worksheet. The pamphlet gives students and parents’ helpful information about bed bugs and how students can assist in the eradication of an infestation. They have also outlined the service call criteria along with what students should inspect during and after treatment.

College administration need to provide students and staff with information about bed bugs, either in the student handbook or by distributing handouts, fact sheets, and pictures. Additionally, administrators should periodically remind students that they should be checking for bed bugs and reporting any signs of pests they may find.

Although many colleges remain reactive to bed bugs, some college websites contain helpful and accurate bed bug information. These sites can be used as a reference for creating protocols and educational materials. Besides Rutgers University, Kentucky University, Harvard University, and Cornell University all have accurate bed bug information.

In addition, the Bed Bug Handbook: The Complete Guide to Bed Bugs and Their Control, written by L.J. Pinto, R. Cooper, and S.K. Kraft, can be a helpful resource. This book provides very detailed information about bed bugs and outlines many different and useful checklists.

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