PictureNicki, inspection a chair for bed bugs

Got an urgent call to conduct a K9 inspection of an alternative care facility near Lincoln, MA.  This is a somewhat exclusive facility for the elderly – but bed bugs didn’t seem to care.
The story goes that a resident observed a bug crawling on her friend’s neck while playing Bingo in the activities’ room.It turns out this woman friend was very “popular” and would hang out quite frequently with a group of other residents in the common areas of the building.

Management got notified and immediately responded by inspecting her room:  they were faced with quite an advanced infestation in that poor woman’s bedroom.

Based on the fact that it was an advanced infestation and that this woman visited with others quite frequently all over the facility, the Pest Control PM recommended to get our bed bug inspector beagles to sweep through all common areas, all adjacent units of the infested unit as well as all units of those residents that this woman visited.

Good decision because our dogs alerted to live bed bugs in 11 units and common areas out of 25. Visuals revealed advanced infestations in common areas specifically and mostly small infestations in the bedroom units.

The facility is now undergoing heat treatment of those infested areas over the course of a week.  Then our dogs will come in again for a post-treatment inspection, ensuring that “no bed bugs got left behind.”

So, what are the lessons learned here in this particular instance:

1.- Bed bugs in alternative care facilities?  More common than you might think.  So where are the potential sources of introduction:  Visitors coming and going, outsourced health care staff making their visits, employees, residents being transported to and from events, off-site activity centers, malls and shopping centers etc.
2.- Lack of public awareness of the insidious and epidemic nature of this pest; also ignorance or denial by management.
3.- Inability of elder people to know there is a problem.
4.- Unwillingness of an aware resident to admit and then communicate a problem – afraid of the ensuing social stigma, quarantine by friends and family etc.
5.- Unwillingness of management to institute a pro-active bed bug risk management plan for fear of loosing revenue.
5.- Lack of pro-active communication protocol to encourage residents to disclose potential bed bug problems.

If they had put a pro-active bed bug risk management plan in place, this facility would have avoided:
– 10s of thousands of heat treatment costs
–  the potential of lawsuits
–  its reputation tarnished
–  loss of income with residents leaving or its inability to fill rooms to capacity

And, of course, a routine bed bug dog inspection is the ticket to a fast, more accurate and thus cost-effective approach to an early bed bug detection.  Call Mass Bed Bug Busters at 508-713-8267.

If you are a resident, employee or a property manager of such a facility, you can find a lot of information and asistance from the International Bed Bug Resource Authority.(IBBRA)  Denise Donovan, founder of IBBRA.org has written several books including the one listed below:  it provides risk education and training to hotels, hostels and other multi-unit properties on this most difficult pest to eliminate, bed bugs.