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Bed bugs surface at UH-Manoa dorms and Campus Center

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Reported by: Ron Mizutani 

Updated: 9/28/2010 6:12 pm


Bed bugs continue to rear their ugly heads surfacing in hospitals, hotels, theatres and college campuses.


Students at the University of Hawaii say the human-feeding pests have found their way to Manoa.


The bed bug buzz is quickly traveling around UH Manoa.


"A lot of people have been experiencing bed bugs," said UH student Faith Fermin. "It's really uncomfortable like it sucks and I'm sacred that my dorm has it."


University officials say there is one confirmed case this academic year but students insist the problem is wide-spread.


"I know mostly the floors at the bottom level have bed bugs," said Fermin.


"I started scratching my mom is like do you wash your bed and I was like yeah I do and I was like I think it's bed bugs because I never get bites over there," said UH student Ariel Mateo. "I think it's kind of gross."


Two weeks ago more than 100 students were evacuated from their dorm rooms at a North Carolina college because of a bed bug infestation.


"There's not a state that doesn't have a significantly growing bed bug problem and universities just like any other facility where people spend the night are subject of infestations," said Michael Botha, President of Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions.


UH Housing Officials said: "Bed bugs are not widespread in our facilities. However, if there is a belief that a student's room has bedbugs, it must be reported to a resident advisor, residence director, assistant residence director, or to the community desk of any facility, to lead to a response. We are responsive to any report. If the presence of bed bugs is confirmed or strongly suspected, the student will be temporarily housed in another room while the eradication is addressed."


"None of the towers have like empty rooms so would have actually like go home if we would have to have evacuate and stuff like that," said UH student Torilee Sato.


But the pests aren't only at the dorms.


"I was just sitting here in the chair and the bed bug was crawling in between the seam of the wood armrest and the upholstery," said Jason Patterson who spotted one at Campus Center Monday. "I put my finger down to see what it would do and immediately went for the finger you know food source."


Patterson knows all about bed bugs after experiencing an infestation at his high school dormitory.


"We threw out all the bed frames and all the mattresses and bombed the entire dorm," he said. "Pretty un-nerving because there's so much traffic around here."


In response to our story UH sent an email to all student housing residents and parents reminding them of bed bug procedures and easy any concerns they may have.


"Very important, like to get emails or flyers or things just to let the students know," said Sato.


"If you go straight to your RA (resident advisor) they should tell the supervisor of the whole building like what's going on and they can probably fix it and they should fix since it's a big problem, so yeah communication is key," added Fermin.


UH Letter to Parents


" Dear Parents and Families:


Because a local newsroom is pursuing a story on bedbugs in on-campus housing, we wanted to address this issue proactively so you understand the scope of the issue and our response procedures which, hopefully, will ease any anxiety.


As you may know, cities around the world are experiencing a sharp increase in bedbug infestations in hotels, hostels, private homes, and, yes, college residence halls. New York City, for example, has a particularly huge problem with bedbugs, and has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in an attempt to eradicate them.


Our campus housing is not experiencing bedbugs to nearly the same level. We are very confident stating that we do not have a widespread bedbug problem in our on-campus housing facilities. In fact, before the start of the Fall 2010 semester in late August, exterminators inspected all of our residences and found no pest problems before move-in day.


We do, however, have a handful of students who experience bedbug issues each year, thus we have a plan in place to address any incidents that may occur. Any student who believes that he or she is experiencing bedbugs should report this to a staff member, including any Resident Advisor, Residence Director or Assistant Residence Director, or to the community desk. Our staff will either 1) ask the student to provide a sample of the bug, which may be obtained by using a piece of tape or a plastic baggie, or 2) examine the student’s room to confirm/verify that bedbugs are present.


The reason confirmation is needed is because, in most cases, bugs found in a room are usually not bedbugs. Over the years, in dealing with this issue, we’ve learned that students who thought they had bedbugs in their rooms had recently been to the beach. It turned out that the bites appearing on their bodies were actually caused by sand mites. However, because the symptoms of sand mite bites don’t normally fully manifest until after returning from the beach—and because of recent national media attention on bedbugs—students may conclude that they are experiencing bedbugs.


When a bedbug problem is confirmed, we immediately give the affected student a temporary room assignment, with instructions for washing bedding and clothing to eliminate any bedbugs present. We promptly notify our exterminator, who will treat an infected room within 1-2 workdays. Once the problem has been eliminated, the student moves back into the original room.


We have noticed that, in rooms where there have been confirmed cases of bedbugs, the occupant recently traveled by air. More often than not, the travel destinations were international, though students have brought bedbugs back after visiting the neighbor islands or U.S. mainland. Bedbugs can infest luggage, so when they are stored under beds, they transfer to the mattresses.


If an issue is caused by insects other than bedbugs, we address it based on the type of pest. Different pests lead to different methods of management—some require insecticide treatment, while others are managed simply by making sure there is no food source in the room, such as leftover pizza boxes or unwashed dishes.


There is nothing inherent about our facilities or our furnishings that attract bedbugs. They can appear anywhere, including private homes. Because bedbugs are introduced to the environment from elsewhere, there is no reasonable or realistic way to completely eliminate the possibility that a bedbug issue may arise, especially given the extremely small scope of the problem throughout our on-campus housing facilities.


We deeply care about your student, and will immediately respond to any report brought to our attention. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.


Office of Parent and Family Relations: 808-956-7829

Office of Student Housing Services: 808-956-8177


Mahalo! "


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Tags: Michael Botha  |  Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions  |  bed bug inspections  |  Bed Bug Heat Treatments  |  Hawaii pest control

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