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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Bedbugs go online: Website launched to educate students on crawly nuisance

Bedbugs go online: Website launched to educate students on crawly nuisance
Posted: August 25, 2011 - 12:11 AM
Updated: August 25, 2011 - 12:42 AM

Due to an increase in bedbug cases on campus, a student group has partnered with the federal government to raise awareness about the pests.
A web-based, jointly-funded partnership was forged this summer between the Student Sustainability Committee and The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Institute for Food and Agriculture, called the bedbug Integrative Pest Management, or IPM.
Its website, educates students about pest prevention and management, as well as keeps the public informed about what they’re working on to squash any problems.
Last spring, University housing took action when a student reported a bedbug incident and was told to evacuate from her dorm, Evans Hall.
After the project launched, pest monitors were placed around campus. If bedbugs are found, the location is immediately quarantined, which takes seven days to 21 days or longer.
If a case is found in non-University housing, it is up to the tenant and the landlord to resolve the issue. Students can ask their landlord to exterminate for bedbugs, said Nancy Dietrich, Tenant Union housing counselor.
If they are having trouble convincing the tenant to assume the cost, Dietrich recommends telling the landlord that it would be best in their best interest to deal with extermination costs while the bedbugs are in one unit rather than an entire building.
Bedbugs are six-legged, wingless creatures about a quarter of an inch in size; they are also visible to the naked eye. Even though these insects feed on blood, they are relatively harmless, as their bites don’t spread diseases.
Warning signs can include blood smears and fecal matter on clothing, bedsheets or other places they might be living on. They can go months at a time without food and also, due to their size, can easily hide in the cracks of bed frames, headboards, light sockets or the linen seams of mattresses.
One way the pests get around is by way of luggage, said Andy Blacker, Facilities and Services Specialist.
“Bedbugs are hitchhikers,” Blacker said. “We advise the student population to be mindful of their surroundings and not bring them back.”
Awais Vaid, an epidemiologist with the Champaign-Urbana Public Health District, said he has noticed fewer calls and complaints about bedbugs this season.
After learning of these parasites, Max Crouse, sophomore in LAS, said he has taken precautions. He took it upon himself to buy a mattress cover because bedbugs would be a “distraction that no one wants to deal with.”
According to Vaid, additional personal bedbug prevention includes pulling the bed away from walls, wrapping duct tape around bed legs, vacuuming on a regular basis, washing clothes and bed sheets in hot water and putting them in the dryer on high heat for at least 20 minutes.
Vaid said he does not advise using over-the-counter methods of dealing with bedbugs. He said they can develop resistance, as well as spread to other apartments by doing so. Instead, he urges people to call an exterminator.

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