A bed bug was found at the end of January in a fifth grade classroom at Clarendon Elementary school in Secaucus, and another one was found days later in the same room, a school official confirmed. Sal Cioffi, facilities director, said that it was an isolated incident that the district responded to immediately by having their pesticide control manager, Stern Environmental Group, come and assess the situation.
Canine detects bed bugs scent
The school district then called a canine service company to inspect and search the entire school. The canine detected the bedbugs’ scent in the affected fifth grade classroom. An exterminator performed a freezing method throughout the walls as well as a heating method that heats items to 145 degrees. No more bed bugs were visibly detected by the exterminator, canine, or health inspector.
Cioffi said last week that the district had not used any pesticides but had been proactive in instituting an integrated pest management plan through daily monitoring, and cleaned the fifth grade classroom from top to bottom every night and every morning.
Females can survive up to a year without feeding.
Cioffi said that the procedures are in the best interest of the children and said that the classroom where the bed bugs were found is a safe environment.
“The county health department is advising us,” said Susan Smahl, director of special services. “There is a process we have to follow. We are taking care of everything we have to.”
A notice was sent out to parents last week by the principal to inform parents of the bed bug situation and how the district responded to it.
School officials said the bugs probably were brought in via a student who has a bed bug problem at home.
Identifying the source
Bed bugs are difficult to eliminate because they move quickly, spread easily, and are resistant to most pesticides. They bite people and feed off of blood, and females can survive up to a year without feeding.
The resurgence of bed bugs in the US began in the mid-1990s in places that varied from movie theaters to schools to upscale hotels, which has led to studies on where the bed bugs came from and how to control the infestation. Bed bugs can be found anywhere and travel on backpacks, suitcases, luggage, and clothing.
Scientific American reported that scientists analyzed bugs that were collected from the U.S. East Coast and across the country to determine whether bed bugs emerged from a few foreign entries, from local animal populations, or whether they are repeatedly imported from abroad and then spread throughout the country.
In the report, a scientist was quoted as saying that there is “an extremely high rate of inbreeding,” among bed bugs. As an example, the scientists studied an infested Jersey City apartment building and found that the bed bugs were so genetically similar that they could have originated from a single fertilized female, rather than from various different types of bed bugs. Most species do not survive inbreeding as a result of genetic mutations, but cockroaches and bedbugs apparently can do so.
The study also indicated that bed bugs are global hitchhikers and scientists believe people are bringing them in from overseas travel, especially tropical places.
Adriana Rambay Fernández may be reached at email@example.com.