Bed Bugs Greet Students on Opening Day

Students were greeted on opening day with an unwelcome surprise. As they were unpacking and settling into their new rooms, they discovered surprise bunkmates: bed bugs. Three dorm rooms were discovered to have the pests. Those rooms, along with the surrounding rooms and hallways, were promptly disinfected by professional exterminators. Even though eradicating bed bugs can sometimes take weeks or months, depending on the extent of the infestation, there is no evidence at this point that bed bugs are in any other spaces at school.

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Mr. Tom Broderick in protective clothing during the bed bug outbreak in September 2018. (Photo: Mr. Joey Burnah)

The bed bug outbreak displaced a total of four students from their rooms in Bergamini for less than a day. Two of the displaced students had beds infested with bed bugs, while the other two were hall RAs who helped move the infested bedding. The RAs rooms were treated to ensure the outbreak didn’t spread.

Assistant Head of School Mr. Tom Broderick supervised the cleanup. “The insects were found in the wood frames of the affected beds, somewhere that the school had missed to check in the run-up to school,” explained Broderick. “As soon as we became aware of the situation, we sprayed a plant-based toxin, which only harms bed bugs and not humans, in common areas around the campus including hallways and the student center as a precautionary measure,” he said.

Northwood had a similar incident about ten years ago when a student found bed bugs in her bed after returning to school from vacation. Since then, the school has purchased bed bug-proof mattresses to prevent the infestation of beds in dorms, but they are not 100% effective. However, with as many as 1,500 people using the beds on campus every summer and students who travel extensively, it is difficult to conclude from where the bugs originated.

“Bed bugs are a reality in modern world. We have students from 24 countries and 21 states who have been traveling. It wasn’t really surprising that the outbreak happened. I think what’s more surprising is that this didn’t happen sooner,” commented Mr. Broderick.

“We’re fortunate that we have experts here in our town that deal with bed bugs on a regular basis, like local hotels. Though these bugs are resilient and hard to eradicate, we’re fairly confident that we’ve got the situation covered,” Mr. Broderick said. As a preventative measure, the school has been installing bed bug monitors that use heat and CO2 to attract, trap, and kill bed bugs under beds. The school is also looking into the possibility of treating all student rooms with intense heat during the next school break. The procedure raises ambient room temperature to 130℉, a lethal temperature for bed bugs.

Since most humans do not react to bed bug bites, it is not uncommon for people to have bed bugs and not know. Therefore, it is important to educate our students on how to spot bed bugs to allow timely intervention. See more about bed bugs here.

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