Students find bedbugs in rez

BURNABY, B.C. (CUP) — A handful of students at Simon Fraser University have reported finding bedbugs in their residence rooms.

Bedbugs are small insects that feed on human blood, and commonly cause skin rashes, allergic reactions and psychological effects. Nearly eradicated in the 1940s, the global bedbug problem has exploded since the mid-90s and commonly infests places with high transient populations, like hotels and dormitories.

SFU's residence and housing department received their first bedbug complaint from a student during the first week of September, which was treated immediately. Since then, a handful of other students living in the same building and a neighbouring one have confirmed cases of bedbugs.

Last week, the university hired a local pest-control company to inspect the infested rooms with bedbug-sniffing dogs.

In addition to checking the rooms suspected of having bedbugs, the dogs also inspected the rooms immediately above, below and beside, in a method called cloverleafing, which ensures the bedbugs haven't spread.

Following the inspections, they determined all reported cases were very minor and localized, with only one or two bugs actually discovered.

"We're happy to report that these were very minor cases. The (live) bedbugs couldn't even be found," said Chris Rogerson, residence life director at SFU. "In all the cases there was evidence of one or two bugs, but no infestations."

Despite the degree of the issue, Rogerson noted the importance of addressing the problem before it gets out of hand.

"We wanted to make sure we were taking care of this," he explained. "We didn't want to sweep it under the rug ... we wanted to make sure this didn't become a bigger problem for our residents."

While these cases were very minor, Rogerson admits SFU has had a problem with bedbugs in the past.

"We haven't been immune (to bedbugs). We've had one or two isolated cases per year, but they've been very localized. This is the first time that we saw more than one case at the same time."

With the success of the extermination of the pests, there are also plans to complete a full canine inspection of all residence buildings by the end of the semester.

According to Rogerson, the inspection and treatment of the 1,800 rooms on campus could cost approximately $20,000. The money will come partially from residence and housing's pest control budget, while some will be drawn from repairs and maintenance.

In the future, Rogerson hopes to educate people about the pesticides to reduce the possibility of future outbreaks.