Bedbugs reach local hospitals

LEWISTON — Central Maine Medical Center has closed a medical-surgical unit while it gets rid of bedbugs. 

CMMC found an infestation in the unit over a week ago when a patient alerted staff. That unit was shut down and patients were temporarily moved so exterminators could treat the unit and, as a precaution, the adjoining areas. The unit is currently closed, but no more bugs have been found and it will likely reopen Monday.

CMMC isn't the only medical facility in the area to deal with bedbugs

In the past month, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees hospitals and other medical facilities, received reports of bedbugs at Lewiston's Montello Manor and Montello Commons, which provide nursing care and assisted living services. A Sept. 13 complaint involved both Montello Manor and Montello Commons, according to a DHHS spokesman. An Oct. 5 complaint involved only Montello Commons.

Officials for Montello Manor and Montello Commons could not be reached for comment Friday afternoon.

St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston has also dealt with bedbugs. A spokesperson for the hospital there said were a "few isolated incidents" of bedbugs brought in by patients, though she was unable to say Friday when the bedbugs were found or how widespread they were.

DHHS has also received reports of isolated incidents in medical facilities in southern Maine.

Bedbugs are apple-seed-sized insects that feed on human blood. They tend to infest beds and bedrooms, but they also hide in walls, under floorboards, in piles of clothes and inside couches. Because bedbugs are so tiny, it can be difficult to see them.

Some people don't realize their homes are infested until they find themselves covered in itchy red welts or discover that their bare mattresses look like they've been sprinkled with pepper — dried blood-waste left behind from the bedbugs' previous meals. Bedbugs do not spread disease, though they can make sleeping nearly impossible and their bites can cause itching.

Nationally, bedbug infestations have been on the rise. The insects have increasingly been found in hotels and department stores, as well as homes and apartment buildings. The problem has become so common that the website BedBugRegistry.com has popped up as a way for people to tell their horror stories and track bedbug infestations in hotels and apartments.

Bedbugs have been creeping into Maine for the past five years and into Lewiston-Auburn for the past three or four, hitching a ride on clothes, in suitcases and in used furniture. Infestations have nothing to do with cleanliness.

Although the state recently issued guidelines for schools dealing with bedbugs, it has not issued such guidelines to hospitals. The Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention has posted bedbug information and pest management advice on its website.

To deal with future infestations, CMMC has created its own protocol that includes isolating any area containing bedbugs, double-bagging clothes and other private belongings and removing them from the area, double-bagging bedding, drapes and other items that could be contaminated and having them cleaned outside CMMC, hiring pest control experts to spray the area using approved pesticides that offer extended protection against reinfestation and having CMMC's environmental service staff clean the area. When it's possible that bedbugs may have spread, the hospital plans to use trained dogs to pinpoint their location.

St. Mary's has also created a protocol that includes hiring trained dogs to pinpoint the bugs' location. Then, depending on the situation, the hospital plans to steam-clean the area, put furniture in a super-heated truck or replace it, put clothing, bedding, drapes and other items into a dryer to kill the bugs or use carbon dioxide traps.

The University of Maine Cooperative Extension has released a video on searching for and avoiding bedbugs in hotel rooms.

For visitors to hospital rooms, Jim Dill, the cooperative extension pest management specialist featured in the video, recommends not carrying purses or other belongings and not setting items on or near the bed. For patients, he suggests thoroughly inspecting anything taken home and immediately drying clothes to kill any hitchhiking bedbugs with heat.

ltice@sunjournal.com

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Comments

 's picture

First off

I think when you post something here you should know a little bit about what your talking about or you just plain sound dump while knocking people. Bed bugs do not care if you are dirty or clean...both types of people have blood. You can go shopping and bring your new items...clothes, bags, furniture, ect into your house and get bedbugs. Its great you keep your house so clean but that doesnt mean you wont or cant get them. They are hitchhikers and will and can attach to anything and then when you place the purse/ back pack for instance down they climb out and poof bed bugs are started somewhere else. Since the females lay upto 5 eggs a day they are rapidly reproducing and most people dont notice for the first month or so as they arent being bitten. The bites also look like flea bites SO if you have other animals you may mistake these bites. Once people know they have them yes they need to alert the landlords better and have the issue professionaly taken care of. BUT, how many landlords have the place professionaly exterminated or better yet heat treated. How many give you a can of spray or try to "heat" your unit themselves?? Noone wants bed bugs, noone wants to "bring" them with them and infest another place. Its people like you guys that make people be ashamed and not come forward to the landlords when they realize their place is infested. Coach roaches yes they like dirty but MOST restraunts have them and its due to them coming in with the shipments of food, so are you saying they are all dirty?? Lice again they like clean scalps....yes you have to be cleaning up your house and child and be keeping an eye for more nits, BUT most people are doing that and they miss one nit just to start all over again. My daughter got lice and we noticed it when she had just a few bugs and a small amount of nits, we used the shampoo, cleaned, washed, ect and the over the counter didnt work. We needed a prescription. Even though we did everything by the book to get rid of these it took us a month to fully be lice free. Is my daughter gross? no, do we have piles of clothes sitting around our house? Hell no I am a neat freak. BUT she got them. My advice is anyone who sees bites on themselves or their children...take all sheets and blankets off the beds, look for blood stains on the mattress, look for pepper like specks on your mattress, in the creases and last lift up your mattress and box spring and check the undersides, check the corners for bed bugs. They usually stay together in a cluster. When its dark wake up and look for bed bugs as thats when they come out, take double sided tape and put it around your mattress so you can check to see if any bugs were caught. WHEN you FIRST know you have them call your landlord and by law they have to take care of the issue. Dont be embarrassed and wait because it will be harder to get rid of them and they multiply so fast. The hospital was putting laundry, curtains, ect in bags so when they carried them out of the hosptial no bugs fell out and infested another part of the hospital. This was smart of them. Do your research and dont act like your better then others.

 's picture

I'd say hospitals are pretty

I'd say hospitals are pretty clean places...being antiseptic, and all that, so I highly doubt that cleanliness is the largest factor...I don't care how OCD you are about cleaning, unless you are living in an entirely remote area with nothing coming in (clothes, furniture, appliances, etc), you never going anywhere and absolutely NO visitors...anyone else, no matter how vigilant or diligent has a chance. Even new furniture, clothes and appliances can be infested from the delivery trucks (especially the rental places Rent-A-Center, etc.). Once you get them, THEN cleaning thoroughly *and* often becomes a reason for *STILL* having them. Unfortunately, not every home owner can afford either chemical or heat extermination, especially if the process needs to be repeated (as chemical extermination does). That is the BIGGEST reason why they haven't been eradicated, imo. Not everyone can afford to do it the right way. The second biggest reason, (again, imo) is the stereotyping and judging of others make it almost impossible for people to come forward and admit to the problem. No one breeds bedbugs, they do not spontaneously come to life under piles of dirty clothes. The ignorance here is really horrible. Rather than make it safe to alert neighbors, landlords, pest control people, the comments here keep people in fear of others will judge them.

Nothing to do with cleanliness huh??? BULL

If a person has a clean home and doesn't have piles of clothes laying all over the place, then more likely than not they won't have an infestation. The media just says this so as not to insult the people, but they are not all brought in by other people. Keep your hospitals clean and hire people that really clean, not just pretend to clean, and you may be able to stop this epidemic. It's the same with head lice...some have it and some don't..why do you supposed that is??? If you checked out the cleanliness of a person and their homes, you wouldn't ask..Again, the media and Drs. and officials don't have the nerve to say clean up your homes and get off you ass, because it would insult some people and hurt their feeling to hear that maybe they aren't exactly clean..Wash the bed coverings more than once every six months, and shower daily with soap and water..NO need for this to happen nowadays ....

I agree...

I agree that maybe the bedbugs would have more of a difficlut time to hide, but they hide behind headboards, cracks in walls, and any place esle ..once infested, you need to have them exterminated, then be dilligent about your cleaning habits...vacuum the floors more than once a month and change beds at least at minimum every other week..You would be surprised at the people that don't do any of this on a regular bases..and they wonder why they have bugs..

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