Start scratching now... The number bedbugs found in New York City's public schools TRIPLES in a year

Daily Mail (UK)
Friday, July 22, 2011

The number of bedbugs found in New York City's public schools has tripled since last year.

The city's Department of Education confirmed some 3,590 reports of bedbugs at schools over the past year, up from just 1,019 a year before.

And officials are preparing for for even more reports of the pests when classes resume this autumn.

Bloodsucker: A common bedbug is engorged with blood after feeding on a human arm. The number of the pests discovered in New York City schools has tripled

According to New York state laws, public schools must tell parents when bedbugs are found, even if just a single bloodsucker is discovered.

In most cases just one or two of the creatures was discovered, but the measures taken to exterminate the pests can have severe consequences for schools and students.

Bedbugs, or cimicidae, are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood.

Reddish-brown, flattened, oval shaped and wingless, adult bed bugs grow to 4-5mm in length and 1.5-3mm wide.

To feed, the pests pierce the skin of their hosts with two hollow feeding tubes shaped like tongues.

With one tube it injects its saliva, which contains anticoagulants and anaesthetics, while with the other it sucks the blood of its host.

It takes between five to ten minutes for a bed bug to become completely engorged, after which it usually returns to its hiding place.

Bedbugs can cause a number of health effects including skin rashes and allergic symptoms. Worryingly, they have been found with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus MRSA.

The creatures were largely eradicated in the developed world in the early Forties, but since 1995 they have enjoyed an unwelcome resurgence, the reasons for which are unclear.

Elusive and usually nocturnal, bedbugs can be hard to spot. Aside from bite symptoms, signs include fecal spots, blood smears on sheets, and molts. They can be found singly, but often congregate once established.

Bedbugs were discovered on nine separate occasions at PS107 last year.

The school is still struggling to replace classroom libraries and other teaching materials ruined by the chemicals used to exterminate them.

'It's been disruptive for the kids,' added Ms Mauro.

In February, the education department issued a warning that bedbugs were invading New York City's schools at an alarming rate.

Spokesman Marge Feinberg said at the time that the increase in cases was being caused by individual students coming to school with bedbugs, and not by full-scale infestations.

'It is important to know that schools are not hospitable places for bedbugs,' Miss Feinberg said.

'They are brought into schools from the clothing.'

Officials in New York, where there are 1.1 million students and 100,000 teachers, last year admitted the bedbug scourge had reached 'an unprecedented rate of spread.'

A protocol for dealing with cases was introduced in schools, along with the aim of more communication between schools and parents.

Those measures seem to have failed because so many homes are already infested.

Private homes continue to be the source of most infestations, with bedbugs travelling on the clothes and bags of their hosts to spead elsewhere.

'Bedbugs need to be where people are,' Missy Henrickson, of the National Pest Management Association, told NBC New York.

'So when you have homes infested with bedbugs, students who live there are bringing them into schools.'

Last month it emerged that the parasitic insects had invaded Manhattan's upmarket Reebok Sports Club/NY where celebrities such as Chris Rock, Antonio 'L.A.' Reid and Taye Diggs work out.