Bed Bugs Discovered at Housing Authority Complex for Elderly
Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Residents of New Bern Towers, a Housing Authority apartment complex for the elderly, are being temporarily displaced by bedbugs.

Gerald Wingate, interim executive director of New Bern Housing Authority, said several residents complained about bedbugs a couple of weeks ago.

An inspector was brought in Friday and on Monday exterminator Rid-A-Pest of Wilson was called in to begin work on the eighth floor of the building.

The work requires that residents leave their rooms during the extermination process, but not overnight. There are approximately 12-14 residents on each floor, officials said.

The 106-unit building will be worked on from top to bottom, housing authority officials said.

"We decided to do it floor by floor and exterminate every square inch," Wingate said.

Wingate said he did not know how the bed bugs got into the apartment complex.

"Nowadays people travel all over the world and visitors come in," he said. "It is impossible to determine the point of origin.

"We are being very proactive to make sure the residents are not impacted by the bedbugs," he said. "I feel confident this process will be completed … and there will not be any bedbugs in New Bern Towers."

The Housing Authority will do a follow-up survey in 20 to 30 days after the extermination is complete to make sure the problem is corrected, Wingate said.

Lee Smith, vice president and an entomologist and with Rid-A Pest, said his company hired the independent contractor Logos K9 of Raleigh to use dogs trained to alert inspectors to bedbugs.

Bedbugs were found in not quite half of the 106 units, Smith said.

"There was not any heavy infestation," he said. "It was kind of throughout the building in various units. But any bedbugs are bad."

Workers are using industrial-sized heaters to raise the temperature in each apartment to 120 degrees. Smith said that is the only way to kill the bedbugs and their eggs.

The only way to keep the bed bugs out of the units is through education, Smith said.

The pest control company is working with management at New Bern Towers and the Housing Authority to educate residents on the importance of avoiding discarded furniture and to refrain from visiting neighbors in the units that have not yet been treated, Smith said.

Smith said it would probably take a little more than a week to rid the apartment complex of the pests.

Gill Meadows, a resident of New Bern Towers, said Tuesday he did not have a problem with bedbugs in his room on the fourth floor, but he wasn't surprised some people had them in their rooms.

"People are moving in and moving out," Meadows said. "I think that is where they come from. …What you want to watch for is reoccurrence."

George Taylor, a resident of the sixth floor who was sitting in his wheelchair in the parking lot of the apartment complex, said he has seen a few bedbugs in his room. But he didn't seem concerned.

"It's not a big problem," he said.