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Why Bedbug Infestations are Library’s Latest Page Turner

When library personnel turn the pages of books, it’s not because they’re such fascinating reads. They’re looking for blood-sucking bedbugs that may be nesting.

The Miller Branch of the Warren Civic Library has been temporarily closed so exterminators can wage war on bedbugs. (Patch file photo)
The Miller Branch of the Warren Civic Library has been temporarily closed so exterminators can wage war on bedbugs. (Patch file photo)

There’s no time for head-scratching at a suburban Detroit library, where a bedbug infestation caused an emergency closure.

Warren Mayor Jim Fouts said officials are aggressively fighting the spread of bedbugs,  bringing in specially trained dogs to sniff out the blood-sucking insects and instructing library staff to call the police if necessary to lock out patrons they suspect of carrying bedbugs into the Miller Branch of the Warren Civic Library, The Detroit News reports.

The branch is indefinitely closed to stop their spread, used book donations have been ceased, and library workers are being trained to spot the flat, rusty-red colored, oval-shaped insects on books that are returned.

The branch was closed after a patron complained to library staff that bedbugs were jumping off a homeless individual and onto the keyboard of one of the library’s free-access computers.

The man had visible bedbugs on his body and is a frequent visitor at the library, the Detroit Free Press reports. “They escorted him out and told him that he could not come back,” Fouts told the Free Press.

The same mans visited the Warren Civic Library Branch in City Hall and sat on some of the sofas before he was asked to leave.

When the bug-sniffing dogs were turned loose in the Miller Branch, they detected bedbugs. Extermination efforts, which include heat and chemical treatments, are planned.

Detroit Metro One of the Worst in Country for Bedbugs

Officials at the library have reason to be alarmed about a possible infestation.

The bedbugs are on the move all across the Detroit metro, and have also been found in schools, courtrooms, other libraries and on buses. Orkin ranked Detroit fourth on its 2013 list of cities with the worst bedbug infestations, behind Chicago, Los Angeles and Columbus, OH.

Elsewhere in the metro area, Taylor schools banned backpacks at an elementary school, which was fumigated twice to kill bedbugs last year; a 36th District Court courtroom was closed after bedbugs were spotted; and Detroit Department of Transportation bus drivers have reported seeing budbugs and being bitten by them, according to The Detroit News.

Luxury Hotels Have Problems, Too

Bedbugs aren’t just a problem among the city’s homeless. They’re a particular problem in hotels, whether budget or luxury, and the hotels’ sanitation standards have very little to do with their spread, USA Today said in a story published by the Detroit Free Press.

Increases in business and tourist travel are blamed for the exploding bedbug problem.

“Most chains have experienced bedbugs,” said John Barcay, a senior scientist at Ecolab,a company with a pest-management division that services hotels. “Bedbugs are more prevalent in hotels with high occupancy rates and in high tourist areas.”

Experts also think the resurgence in bedbugs after a prolonged absence is due to their resistance to pesticides, the Centers for Disease Control and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said in a joint statement last year.

» Learn more about what to do if you have bedbugs.

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