Physical Plant and Residence Life cleared a bed bug infestation in less than a week, acting quickly after confirming a case of bed bugs in a Colonnades single.

On Feb. 17, an anonymous student began itching and wondered if it was bed bugs. By Feb. 22, the problem had been addressed and fixed, Turner said.

“It was an excellent response,” said Elaine Turner, director of Residence Life.

The Elon student went to Health Services first to question the itch. In the meantime, Residence Life had also been informed.

The process for eradicating the bed bugs doesn’t start until an evaluation is completed by Physical Plant, which is contacted by Residence Life. After confirming the sighting of one bed bug, Physical Plant brought in a K9 and search team to look for more. The necessary treatment was implemented, Turner said. Residence Life then worked with the student to prepare for a heat treatment and eradication. Turner said they provide boxes and instruct students to pack up items that aren’t susceptible to high temperatures. Flammable items or items that can melt, such as various foods, are taken out of the room before the process of infusing heat begins.

The heating takes five hours, and the room then has to cool down. There are also follow-up investigations to verify that the infusion worked, Turner said.

Students are advised not to visit other rooms if bed bugs are identified in their own until the treatment is finished because bed bugs are very small and can travel on clothes, book bags and phones, Turner said.

In the case of another infestation, Residence Life will send out another email telling people what to do and where to get more information, Turner said.

Bed bugs have been a problem on college campuses all across the nation. At the University of Nebraska, 94 rooms were infested with bed bugs. An outbreak of this severity can cause serious issues for individual students, the health and image of a school and can become a complicated issue when attempting to balance the privacy of students and warning other students about the issue, according to Inside Higher-ed, a website that provides news concerning higher education.

“Bed bugs are very difficult to get rid of because they reproduce so quickly and are really resilient,” said Elon freshman Caleigh Erickson, who experienced bed bugs at camp several years ago. “Their bites are like really itchy mosquito bites. Your best bet is to heat-treat everything or throw away a lot of your stuff.”

If treated quickly and effectively, bed bugs aren’t a major issue.

If anyone suspects bed bugs, it is important to keep Residence Life informed so they can monitor the situation, Turner said.

[box] Think you have a bed bug in your dorm room or apartment? Call ResLife at 336.278.7300. [/box]