Taking the Bite Out of Bed Bugs During PCS Season
By James BrooksAugust 1, 2018
VICENZA, Italy - The Ederle Inn evicted some unwanted guests from a guest room last week when a military family discovered bed bugs in the room they stayed in seven nights previously.U.S. Army Health Clinic Vicenza, Chief of Environmental Health Capt. Lileshwaran Reddy and an entomologist from U.S. Army Garrison Italy Public Works were called to put their experience to work. The room and guests' room and luggage were inspected and treated with insecticide to kill the bugs."We follow a protocol used by many hotels in the lodging industry and called our garrison experts," said Family and Morale Welfare and Recreation Director Chris Bradford. "The family was relocated to another room and the affected room will not be made available to another guest until we're sure all the bugs are dead and gone."No other guest reports of bed bugs were made after notification by Ederle Inn management, social media and a distributed memo to guests from the garrison commander."This was an isolated incident," said Reddy. "You can think of bed bugs as expert hitchhikers. They're stowaways in luggage, purses, boxes, furniture, and other belongings. PCS season increases the likelihood of bed bugs. When families store clothes and luggage for two or three years and then only pull things out again when it comes time to move back stateside, there's no telling what's in them. The best defense is knowing what to look for," said Reddy.Stopping an infestation dead in its tracks from the onset is critical. A widespread infestation last summer at the Army's Human Resource Command in Fort Knox shuttered six buildings for several days for fumigation. This incident impacted the entire U.S. Army as thousands of workers were sent home.Summer weather and PCS season combine to increase the likelihood of bed bugs because high visitor traffic and lots of luggage. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. Most people do not realize they are transporting them as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel. Since bed bug eggs hatch 4-12 days after they are laid, their presence may not be evident until days after a resident arrives in a room.Families preparing to PCS can prevent bed bugs from tagging along. The Army Public Health Center recommends keeping luggage on racks or otherwise off the floor. Inspect luggage prior to repacking. Laundering clothing using the highest heat settings for washing and drying for at least 30 minutes goes a long way. Bed bugs and their eggs can be killed when exposed to temperatures of 115° F (46° C) for 15 minutes. If it's possible, launder luggage. Otherwise examine it carefully under bright light. If bed bugs are discovered, determine a treatment option appropriate for the size and type of luggage. Proactive measures can go a long way in preventing bed bug infestations.Housekeeping staff in Army Lodging received additional training this past week to reinforce the importance of being alert for bed bug infestation."We took this incident very seriously and we followed our Installation Pest Management Plan. Army Lodging strives to provide the best customer services for our Soldiers, civilians, and their families. It's a team effort to ensure the Ederle Inn provides the most comfortable and secure temporary home for transitioning personnel," said USAG Italy Garrison Commander Col. Erik Berdy.
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