Sierra Nevada College continues to fight periodic infestations of bed bug incidents, which began in August 2012. At least 10 of the 40 students who live in the Campbell-Friedman dormitory have been affected, but efforts to limit the exposure prevented a spread to Prim-Shultz dormitory.
Director of Student Affairs and Housing Lizzie Hernandez stated that this is the first outbreak of bed bugs she’s experienced since she began working at SNC seven years ago.
“We’ve never had an issue like this before,” said Hernandez.
Bed bugs are affecting colleges and universities across the nation.
With a dramatic re-emergence of reported infestations worldwide, the SNC Campbell-Friedman dormitory has been hit. Living in close quarters with several students, while socially ideal, is a challenge when it comes to eliminating the nuisance. Once exposed, bed bugs are extremely difficult to get rid of.
Students living in close quarters on campus make for perfect hosts to these pests, which are the size of a poppy seed and prefer dark environments such as beds, couches and other soft furniture.
According to the N.Y. Department of Health, bed bugs feed painlessly, however, the host develops a mild to intense allergic reaction after several weeks of exposure.
After noticing strange bites on their bodies, several students in the Campbell-Friedman dormitory discovered bedbugs in their rooms.
Freshmen Bryant Bredbenner, first floor Campbell-Friedman resident, noticed bites on his body two weeks before final exams during the fall 2012 semester. After reporting to Hernandez, Bredbenner and his roommate were told to clear out their room.
“We cleared out all our stuff into our lockers, tied up our clothes in garbage bags, and they moved us up to the third floor. Not the most ideal situation but it was whatever,” said Bredbenner. “Then an exterminator came in and tore our room apart. They sprayed everywhere. Our room literally looked like a bomb had gone off.”
Two days after the spraying, Bredbenner and his roommate began moving their stuff back downstairs into their room.
“Not even a night went by after moving back in that I was sitting at my desk doing homework and out of nowhere a bed bug literally walked on top of my homework, I killed it, and then another came out, then another, then another,” he said.
After realizing the insects were not eliminated, Bredbenner and his roommate repeated the entire process again. They cleared out their room, and moved back upstairs.
“The exterminators came back and sprayed again. The first floor hall at times literally looked liked a cloud from all the chemicals being sprayed,” said Bredbenner. “This time, we waited a week to move back downstairs into our room and when we did, we could still taste the chemicals in our mouths. We could even see the fat blood stains on the wood frames of our beds where the bugs had been hiding. So nasty.”
SNC has provided both roommates with new mattresses, and they are now bed bug free upon returning to the dorms this spring semester.
“It’s mainly just a physiological thing now,” said Bredbenner. “Being back in the room I keep feeling like I’m seeing bugs, or every time I itch I think it’s a bed bug bite, when really it’s not.”
SNC has worked to assist the displaced students.
“We’ve been lucky because we’ve had some empty rooms available to shuffle people around to when their rooms are being sprayed,” said Hernandez. “Students also have lockers available to put their belongings into when rooms need to be emptied. Obviously, we want students to wash everything and do their part to prevent bed bugs from spreading.”
Freshman Jake Roy, neighbor to Bredbenner on first floor Campbell Friedman, had a similar experience.
“Before we realized we had bed bugs, our friends would come in to kick it and leave with fatty bug bites,” said Roy. “After we found out, my roommate and I were mainly pissed because we had to empty out our entire room.”
SNC used the exterminating company, Eco Lab, to eliminate bed bugs in the dorms. “Ecolab consistently delivers science-based pest prevention solutions to get rid of bed bugs. Ecolab’s multi-treatment protocol is designed to kill bed bugs at all life stages, helping to minimize their impact on human safety and satisfaction.”
“Eco Lab has been great working with us in the dorms, and usually are able to get here the day of a reported bed bug sighting,” stated Lizzie Hernandez. “The hardest part is if there’s ever a delay with them getting here.”
Bedbug.com offers many tips on how to steer clear of the critters while living in a dormitory: “Dormitories are one of the most typical places where bed bugs can occur. In order to remain bed bug free, keep your dorm room clean as long as possible, because the more clutter you have in the room, the more bed bug hiding spaces you’ve got. Inspect for bed bugs, brown or reddish spotting, eggs or shed bed bug skins – especially around mattress seams. Bed bugs can also hide behind headboards, wall hangings, floor-boards and electrical outlets.”
One of the most prudent steps in the prevention is to encase your mattress and pillow, and protect your laundry – a common hiding place for bed bugs.
“The hardest thing about bed bugs is that everybody goes into everybody’s rooms, potentially taking the bed bugs with them wherever they go, that’s just unavoidable,” said Hernandez. “It’s not a fun experience, but we live with bugs and we all learn to deal with it and move on.”
Freshmen Marco Gooding, another victim of Campbell Friedman, had one of the worst cases.
“The exterminator told me I had one of the most extreme cases he had ever seen. He said he found a nest of 50 bed bugs living in my bed, absolutely disgusting,” said Gooding. “All of us living on campus have had mental trauma from this, including students who have had the bugs and also haven’t. We’ve all been mentally affected.”