Bedbug resurgence is a matter of great concern, primarily due to the fact that they are being seen, increasingly, in hospitals, nursing homes as well as in schools. Given their alarming ability to spread rapidly, following certain protocols for their control is a must. These guidelines are even more important for people in the healthcare and hospitality industry; landlords, building managers, pest control service providers, school and housing authority supervisors and inspectors should strictly adhere to bed bug management protocols to maintain health of their multi-member housing units.
Bedbug Protocol 101: Why are multi-unit housing units so vulnerable to bed bugs?
Bedbug management in single family homes is different than their managements in multiunit apartments, schools, hotels, hospitals and daycare centers etc. This is mainly due to common areas such as laundry units, hallways, and classrooms etc that are shared by the residents/occupants of such facilities. In rented apartments, there is a greater turnaround of families which in turn increases the risk of bed bug infestations in the entire premise. Moreover, landlords and building managers are often concerned with the costs of handing such infestations. Not only do they have to hire a licensed pest control agency to treat/inspect the premises; the residents also have to move temporarily to other areas whilst the treatment is ongoing.
What are the protocols to follow when bed bug infestation occurs in a rented apartment?
A tenant should immediately notify his/her landlord/property manager about bed bugs. Some states in the US also ask tenants to directly ring up the local health board office upon discovering a bed bug infestation. The unit should be inspected within 24 hours of the call by a local code inspector. This official generally inspects the entire premises, room perimeters, box springs in the bed, storage units, mattresses and furniture. If an infestation is confirmed, the landlord is served with an order to exterminate the bed bugs immediately.
Bed bug protocols in Schools- How to prepare for bed bug extermination
- Concerned authorities must keep the following items handy: gloves, plastic storage bins and bags, item markers, boxes to move infested items like clothing, supplies, desks, furniture etc.
- Rooms should be identified for temporary storage of non-infested items. Larger boxes and bins may be used for holding school supplies, books, bags, clothing etc. This will minimize the risk of the clan items getting infested.
- School authorities should also notify parents and guardians as well as the staff members about the situation. Bed bugs school protocols are similar to those followed when dealing with head lice in children. However; in case of head lice, the infestation is restricted only to the hosts. Bed bugs, on the other hand, spread quickly like wildfire and hence parents and teachers need to be aware of the situation so they can prevent bringing bed bugs into their homes.
- Implementing a plan- Once infested areas are designated, concerned authorities must utilize professional pest control services to handle the problem. Canine detection is also a step that can be implemented as part of bed bug management protocols in schools, hotels etc.
- Inspection should be done based on: whether the teachers/students switch rooms multiple times during the day, in which case, those classrooms must also be inspected and treated.
- If needed, the bed bug specimens should be collected to identify the species. The specimen should be placed in alcohol inside Ziploc bags.
- Classrooms, lockers and all other student areas must be examined and treated by bagging items that are clean and separating them from infested items.
- While schools need to follow discretion regarding who to and not to notify about the bed bug problem, a parent/guardian notification letter is often the right bed bug protocol to be followed by the schools.
Preparing for the bed bug treatment in schools
- All areas needing treatment must be treated immediately.
- Steam cleaning or freezing are two popular and effective bed bug treatments which must be done carefully- certain items can withstand the heat or extreme cold, but not others. One must test small areas on the said items to see if damage occurs.
- Use HEPA filter vacuums to clean all classrooms. Discard the vacuum bags immediately.
- Wipe down non fabric items like desks etc or those covered using vinyl fabrics with alcohol. Allow them to dry before reuse.
- Use non-residual action insecticides. These are safer from the kids’ point of view. However, any eggs, nymphs and bed bug larvae missed by these will not be eliminated and re-infestation might result.
- Remove posters, clocks, frames etc taking care that these may be infested and might get bed bugs on your person. Pull furniture away from walls.
- Reduce clutter.
- Disinfect all items in gyms, athletic rooms etc.
The bed bug management protocols in multi residential units and schools also recommend evaluation of the treatment program to see if it is working.Repeat once-a-week inspections are of utmost importance. Do note that even if all bed bugs have been eliminated, re-infestation through other sources is still highly probable. Parents, teachers, students and staff members must also cooperate to remedy this issue and prevent potential problems by following aforementioned bed bug protocols in schools.