University of Utah library closed because of bed bugs

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bed bug
Bed Bugs usually feed off human blood. (Picture taken from http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/bedbugs/html/home/home.shtml)

SALT LAKE CITY — A bed bug was found on an upholstered armchair at the University of Utah library Oct. 22. More of the bugs were found on the first and second floor and the entire library was shut down shortly afterward.

The Marriott Library has five floors; the first three are usually open for general access. The entire library was closed until inspectors could assess the situation.

Environmental Health and Safety officials worked to get rid of the bugs. A bug-sniffing beagle was sent into the library to reveal any other insect infestation. The upholstered chairs were treated in a heat chamber at 140 degrees, killing all bugs and eggs in the upholstery. The library floors were also treated with a non-toxic treatment.

Valoree Dowell, interim director of communications for the University of Utah, said the bed bugs were probably brought in by a student.

Bed bugs feed on warm-blooded hosts, normally humans. The feeding process is painless for the host and about 50 percent of humans bitten by bed bugs show no physical sign of the bite.

The bugs feed every five to 10 days but can actually survive without feeding from a host for months. They feed at night and typically hide in dark crevices and cracks during the day.

“It’s not surprising (that there were bed bugs in the library) because they can hide in the fabric,” said Ryan Anderson, an owner of AB Pest Control, a company located in Provo.

Roger Layton, communications manager for the Harold B. Lee library, said BYU has never had a bug infestation problem.

“We are very careful about closing the library,” he said. He said shutting down a university library is “a pretty big deal.”

James Newton, a bio-medical engineering student at the University of Utah, often goes to the library to study. While the library was closed, he found alternate locations to study on campus such as the institute building and the engineering building.

When asked if he will sit in the soft chairs where the bed bugs were found he said he probably would.

“Before I would have sat in them without a second thought,” he said. “Now I may scour the area and look for bugs first.”

The library reopened to students Wednesday, Oct. 30.

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