Bedbugs found in IWU dorms

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Rosa Zapata, News Editor

This year, there have been three reported cases of bed bug infestations in Illinois Wesleyan University dorms.

According to Doug Meyer, Associate Director of Residential Life at Illinois Wesleyan, two dorm rooms in Munsell Hall and Ferguson Hall and a room in Pfeiffer have been affected.

Bed bugs have become a big problem in recent years, especially in college dorms.

“Most of the issues that have been coming up are when people take contaminated things from one place to another,” said Ben M. Sadd, a biology professor at Illinois State University who specializes in parasitology. “Say it’s from a hotel to a dorm, and because of larger global connections that make travel easier, bed bugs have become a bigger issue because they are more easily transported.”

Sadd explained that bed bugs are small and oval-shaped parasitic insects that feed off of blood. “They have a generation span of a couple of months and they typically need to feed every couple of weeks, especially when they’re adults. Each time they feed on blood, they can lay eggs,” Sadd said.

“Bed bugs typically come out at night and hide in dark areas during the day. They are attracted to the carbon dioxide emitted through our breath and skin. They’ll feed, and then go away during the day,” Sadd said. “Fortunately, bed bugs are not known to carry any diseases.”

If students suspect they have a bed bug infestation, Meyer recommends that they let their hall director know immediately. “The hall director will tell the student to go to Arnold Health Services to have his or her bites checked out. Health Services can’t necessarily tell you that it is bed bugs, but they can rule it out if it’s not,” Meyer said.

Debra Adams, Director of Health Services, described bed bug bites as a “breakfast, lunch and dinner bite.”

“There will be three bites, usually in a row. If we see that type of bite, we are pretty certain that it is a bed bug bite. Typically, the bites tend to be more on the extremities because that’s often what’s sticking out of the covers—your arms and legs,” Adams explained.

Adams recommended students with bed bug bites apply a hydrocortisone cream to the affected areas to reduce inflammation and itchiness. She also warned against scratching the bites in order to avoid breaking the skin and getting an infection. Arnold Health Services is located in the north entrance of Magill Hall, and the contact number is (309)-556-3107.

If confirmed that a room has bed bugs, Meyer explained that the next step is to call in pest control.

“They may not be able to see something during the day because bed bugs are dormant during the day. If they are able to see something immediately then we go directly into our protocol,” Meyer said. “If they are not able to see any signs at all, we’ll talk to the student and say, ‘We’re not seeing any signs, but what you can do is check tonight, late at night. Turn on the lights, and take off the sheets and see if you can find anything. Most of the cases students have reported have actually been spider bites or bites they got while they were outside. “

Meyer said that the mattresses Illinois Wesleyan provides are bed-bug-resistant because they have fewer seams where bed bugs could hide in. But, sometimes, bed bugs manage to find places to hide in the mattress and bed frame.

In order to reduce the spread of bed bugs, Adams suggested that people be very cautious of their surroundings, particularly when traveling. “Don’t take a suitcase and put it on a hotel floor or on the bed. Put it on the table instead.

“Most of the time bed bugs are transmitted from one place into your room through things like luggage and clothing. It’s recommended that you do a bed bug inspection when you stay at a new place. Pull back the mattress covers and look at the seams. Do this with the lights off and with a flashlight. You want to look for black specks.”

“If you think you have bed bugs, contact the Office of Residential Life immediately. Don’t take your stuff and go to someone else’s room because that will spread the bed bugs. Let us know so that we can find a temporary room. In most cases, the temporary rooms that we are going to be using have been sprayed previously. If you bring a few with you, the spray residue left there takes care of them,” Meyer advised.

To contact ORL, call (309)-556-3113.

Meyer also mentioned that the reason the university does not spray rooms with bed bug repellant on a yearly basis is that it would be too expensive. “We spray as we need to, because it’s normally not a problem. If there are any signs, we will immediately spray,” Meyer explained.

“You just have to be mindful that this is a prevalent issue. It says nothing about the person’s hygiene. A lot of our students will stay in hostiles over the summer and bring bed bugs back to dorms like that,” Adams added.