Bed bugs found, treated at li­brary

Kent County News - - NEWS - By TR­ISH MCGEE pm­cgee@thekent­coun­tynews.com

CH­ESTER­TOWN — This morn­ing, be­fore schools and most busi­nesses in the county open, the Kent County Pub­lic Li­brary’s main branch in the 400-block of High Street will re­ceive an ad­di­tional treat­ment for a bed bug in­fes­ta­tion.

Em­ploy­ees of Western Pest Con­trol will be on-site at 7 a.m. Their work should not in­ter­fere with op­er­a­tion of the li­brary, Di­rec­tor Jackie Adams said Wed­nes­day dur­ing an in­ter­view in her of­fice.

She said the li­brary will open at its cus­tom­ary time, 9 a.m., and pro­gram­ming will con­tinue as sched­uled.

Adams said she does not fore­see any dis­rup­tion in early vot­ing, which gets un­der­way 10 a.m. to­day at the li­brary.

The Ch­ester­town branch of the li­brary is the only early vot­ing cen­ter in Kent County. Vot­ing will be con­ducted there from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, Oct. 25 to Nov. 1.

The pest con­trol treat­ment that the li­brary is re­ceiv­ing to­day is both pre­cau­tion­ary and pre­ven­ta­tive, Adams said, af­ter an in­fes­ta­tion of bed bugs was con­firmed less than a month ago.

“For all in­tents and purposes, we are bed bug free,” Adams said yes­ter­day. “We’re go­ing above and be­yond be­cause we un­der­stand the pub­lic’s con­cern and be­cause we want the li­brary to be a safe, open and wel­com­ing build­ing.”

Roughly three weeks ago, a pa­tron re­ported to li­brary staff that she had been bit­ten by a bed bug, ac­cord­ing to the time­line pro­vided by Adams.

Adams said li­brary staff im­me­di­ately re­ported the in­ci­dent to county of­fi­cials.

Bob Mer­ritt, build­ing main­te­nance su­per­vi­sor, and staff re­sponded to the li­brary that night. They in­spected up­hol­stered chairs and lo­cated the in­fes­ta­tion.

The chairs were re­moved im­me­di­ately.

The af­fected area was “fogged” and the en­tire li- brary was sprayed, Adams said.

She said the li­brary re­opened at noon the fol­low­ing day.

“To be very proac­tive,” Adams con­tacted the county’s pest con­trol ven­dor, New Jer­sey-based Western Pest Ser­vices, and ar­ranged for a ca­nine in­spec­tion, which was done Mon­day, Oct. 22.

In ex­plain­ing the gap be­tween the re­ported in­ci­dent and bring­ing in what she called “snif­fer dogs,” Adams said the pro­to­col re­quired that the area be chem­i­cal free for three weeks prior to the ca­nine in­spec­tion.

Adams said the dogs gave pos­i­tive alerts to two ar­eas — shelves in one of the li­brary stacks and a piece of fur­ni­ture.

While the pest man­age­ment com­pany tech­ni­cian did not see any signs of bed bugs dur­ing his vis­ual in­spec­tion Mon­day, the sus­pect shelv­ing and fur­ni­ture were re­moved from the li­brary, put in plas­tic bags and iso­lated for treat­ment, Adams said.

“We proac­tively closed the li­brary for the day while we de­ter­mined a course of ac­tion,” she wrote in an email.

The League of Women Vot­ers-spon­sored fo­rum for Kent County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion candidates was held as sched­uled Mon­day.

Adams for­warded an email she re­ceived from Western Pest Ser­vices re­gard­ing the agreed-upon treat­ment for this morn­ing. It reads in part, “Western Pest’s tech­ni­cian will per­form the treat­ment of the crack and crevice and shelves in the early morn­ing hours (be­fore the open­ing). On the same visit, the tech­ni­cian will treat iso­lated items. In 2 weeks, we will come back and re­lease those items.”

Mov­ing for­ward, Adams said treat­ment for bed bugs will be­come part of the pest con­trol con­tract for the li­brary. Also, any fur­ni­ture pur­chased for the li­brary will not be up­hol­stered.

Bed bugs are not of­ten a topic of so-called po­lite con­ver­sa­tion be­cause of the er­ro­neous stigma of filth and poverty that persists.

“There is a taboo,” Adams said, “but some of the finest ho­tels in New York City have re­ported bed bugs. ... It hap­pens all the time.”

Closer to home, the Cam­bridge branch of the Dorch­ester County Pub­lic Li­brary re­opened Oct. 15 af­ter the build­ing was heat treated for an in­fes­ta­tion.

Adams said li­brary di­rec­tors on the Eastern Shore have a height­ened aware­ness now and are shar­ing in­for­ma­tion. “We’re all on top of it,” she said.

This is the first in­ci­dence of a bed bug in­fes­ta­tion in Adams’ seven-plus years as Kent li­brary di­rec­tor. While it is not known how the wing­less pests were trans­mit­ted to the li­brary, Adams said there has been no ev­i­dence of bed bugs in the spine of li­brary books here.

PHOTO BY TR­ISH MCGEE

The Ch­ester­town branch of the Kent County Pub­lic Li­brary, in the 400-block of High Street, has been treated for an in­fes­ta­tion of bed bugs.

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