Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
The New Boston Local School District has reported its third case of bed bugs in 2013 and the Scioto County Health Department said the village of New Boston has more reported cases than any other part of the county.
“We do have a problem. There is a problem in New Boston with bed bugs,” said New Boston Village Administrator Steve Hamilton. “The problem is, we are such a low-income village and one of the poorest schools, that just to get a house done and do it right with the heat treatment … who can afford $1,500 to $3,000 in the village to have their house heated like that?”
Brent Rawlins of the Scioto County Health Department said the state of Ohio does not consider bed bugs a nuisance because their bites do cause itching, but don’t spread any diseases. Because of that, the health department can’t treat for bed bugs, they can only identify them and offer information about how to get rid of them.
“Pull back the sheet to the bare mattress, and along the sheets you’ll see little black dots that look like it’s been sprinkled by pepper. That will actually be feces or egg carcases. It’s pretty noticeable to see,” Rawlins said. “They can be transmitted by laying eggs or crawling into a bag.”
Hamilton said he deals with calls about bed bugs in New Boston at least twice a week.
“You look for them in the creases of your mattress. You look for them in the creases of your cloth chairs. They can get in behind light switches. A lot of people just don’t understand what they are, how they spread or how they can take care of them,” he said.
Heat treatment remains the most effective way to kill bed bugs, he said. Cold treatments and chemical treatments are also available, and might be easier to afford, but won’t always kill the eggs. Bugs and eggs on clothing can easily be heat-killed by washing them in hot water and a hot dry cycle.
Hamilton said the biggest problem in New Boston has come from rental properties becoming infected and spreading throughout the village. New Boston Superintendent Mike Staggs said there have been three cases of bed bugs in New Boston School in 2013 from three separate sources in the elementary school.
“We always confirm it with the health department. We call in our exterminator, which is Ohio Pest Control, and they come in and check the area and our custodians check the area. The entire area and surrounding area is thoroughly cleaned and then after students leave it is sprayed,” Staggs said.
After identifying the source of the bed bugs, Staggs said the school tries to help the family.
“We have a pamphlet-type thing from the health department and we contact the parents or guardian and send the information sheet home with them on how to get rid of them. We also give them the contact information directly to the health department,” Staggs said.
He said the most recent case of bed bugs, reported last week, has already been cleaned up at the school.
“Whenever we get an incident, we respond immediately. It’s taken care of immediately,” Staggs said.
Rawlins said the problem isn’t really at the school, but in the village entirely.
The biggest sign that a house might have bed bugs, Hamilton said, is when he sees mattresses and furniture tossed in the trash. When that happens, he said — just to be safe — the village service department has to get dressed in special suits to collect the unwanted items. He said he would like for the village and county to host a special public informational meeting to discuss the signs of bed bugs and how they can be removed. At this time, no meeting has been scheduled.
“Don’t be embarrassed if you have bed bugs, because who knows where it came from,” Hamilton said.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org.