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Students spot bed bugs in Rams Commons

By Chelsea Burwell
On October 30, 2012

Over the last two months, some of the residents of Rams Commons have been bothered by unwelcome guests  - bed bugs. 

According to one student, the pests were spotted in dorm rooms during move-in week, back in early August. 

"The first time I noticed bites on my body was around Aug. 11, and this was a few days before everyone else [students] moved in," said Tyler Kendrick, sophomore finance major from Washington, D.C. 

Kendrick said she thought that the spots on her skin were the result of an allergic reaction, due to her sensitive skin. 

She said she consulted her suite mates to see whether they were experiencing any of the same issues. 

"She [a suite mate] said a friend that visited frequently was getting bit by them [the bugs], too," said Kendrick, referring to one of her suite mates.

To ensure that the situation was resolved quickly, Kendrick said that she emailed Residence Life personnel to get the room treated by Terminex, a pest control company in September.

Everyone in the suite that  was exterminated was temporarily relocated to another Rams Common suite.

Kendrick, said that the bed bugs infestation was not taken as seriously as it should have been. 

She said that Terminex and Winston-Salem State housing officials initially mistook the infestation to be mosquito problems.

Masika Lawrence, a senior computer science major from Fayetteville, was one of Kendrick's suite mates. 

She said that communication between herself and housing officials should have been stronger, and that better procedures should have been taken.

"I feel that I should have spoken to housing first, not just the hall director," Lawrence said.

Within days of the first visit 

[by Terminex]she said she spotted a bug on her bed. 

"I got up around 4 a.m. and I noticed a bug crawling on my bed, about the size of an apple seed. It looked like it had just fed on blood, so I tried to kill it but it didn't immediately die," Lawrence said.

"When I killed it, I saved it just in case Terminex asked for any sign of bed bugs."

Just as bed bugs have the tendency to spread quickly, so do rumors. 

 Pete Blutreich, associate director of housing and residence life, has dispelled the bed bug rumors, saying that only a handful of cases have been confirmed. 

"Upon investigation to date, we have had three confirmed cases," Blutreich said. 

He said that with each case, there are roommates that could be affected. 

This means that only three rooms have shown evidence of having traces of bed bugs. 

"Typically, you can take a lot of precautions as a student, but if you're traveling a lot, you can't control it [infestation]," Blutreich said. 

Blutreich said he is going to implement a new certification plan for each residence hall. 

The plan will include using pest-sniffing canines roam the residence halls to search for bed bugs. 

"Every room will be investigated; every room will be treated," Blutreich said. 

He said that no treatment is 100 percent guaranteed, but the certification will be conducted to the best of their ability to ensure the safety of students. 

Bed bug bites look similar to mosquito bites and have the same itching and irritant effect.   

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the optimal method of treatment is to avoid scratching the bite, taking an antihistamine and applying hydrocortisone cream to the affected area. 

In 2010, Wake Forest University faced a similar bed bug problem that forced them to temporarily shut down a residence hall.  

According to the CDC, bed bugs hide in mattresses, box springs, dresser tables, headboards and many other areas around the bed. 

To reduce the chances of attracting bed bugs, students should check their clothes and luggage after they travel, as well as thoroughly washing and drying bed sheets on hot settings. 

If students suspect that they have been bitten by bed bugs, they should contact housing and visit the student health center.  

"Just be careful of your surroundings, and if there is an issue, the minute you get back be sure to dry/wash/dry your clothes," Blutreich said.

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