TRENTON, NJ - A state worker with the Department of Labor and
Workforce Development said employees are battling bedbugs that have
infested the downtown building, though officials say only one dead
insect was found.
A spokesman with the department confirmed one insect was found
in the building Wednesday.
"It's been given to the Department of Health to determine
exactly what kind of bug it is," said the spokesman, Brian Murray.
"They're going to do an analysis to find if there are others, but
right now, that's where we are."
The state Labor Department worker, Cathy Forlines, a senior
unemployment and disability claims examiner, said the situation is
more dire than that. She painted a picture of itchy workers
paranoid at the thought of the blood-sucking insects.
"It's turning out to be a large problem here," said Forlines.
"We've been on this for three days."
Forlines, a shop steward for CWA local 1038, said 3,500
employees work in her building. She's on the 11th floor of the
13-story office building along Route 29 near the Statehouse.
She said bedbugs were found on the building's eighth floor on
"They actually had the critters," she said. "It was nobody's
SPREAD TO OTHER
Now, workers fear the bugs have spread to other floors.
"People here are getting really buggy about this, excuse the
term," Forlines said.
"They're not happy, they don't want to take them home, they
don't want to work with them."
Forlines said employees were told an exterminator would be sent
to the eighth floor.
An e-mail from someone in building management informed workers
on Thursday that:
"Facilities management is getting an exterminator in today. A
sample bug was collected for the exterminator to examine to
determine the right type of treatment."
Another e-mail sent later that day said the floor in question
"will be treated with a non-chemical treatment which is intended to
determine the extent (if any) of infestation."
Forlines said no exterminations have been done, and she and
others are anxious about the spread of the tiny, persistent
"This is not a harmless little bug," Forlines said. "I already
cover my mattress and pillows. I don't need to do my whole house. I
know the state says they're broke, but please."
Although officials contend only one dead insect was found,
employees have contacted state Sens. Shirley Turner (D-Lawrence)
and Linda Greenstein (D-Plainsboro) in a bid for help, a fact
Greenstein confirmed yesterday. Her staff was in contact with the
Department of Labor, she said.
Bedbugs are flat and typically measure only one-fourth inch
long. They hide in bedding, mattresses, sofas and carpets,
venturing out only long enough for a blood meal.
Entomologists and bedbug experts have warned of increased
infestations in urban centers such as Trenton, where the bugs have
turned up in apartment towers and an elementary school.
In urban areas, the bugs have access to more hosts to infect,
and poorer residents there may not be able to afford the costly,
extensive treatments needed to get rid of the parasites.