What You Should Know About Bed Bugs
They are a Worldwide Problem
Bed bugs are a growing, worldwide problem brought about by increased travel and decreased use of pesticides. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels, college residence halls, hospitals, and virtually all other types of housing throughout the United States. Given the nearly 20,000 students and summer visitors from around the world who live in Student Housing each year, we are fortunate to have had very few cases since bed bugs resurfaced on a large scale in the United States a few years ago. Our peer Ivy League and University of California schools have also reported cases of bed bugs.
What are Bed Bugs?
- Bed bugs are small, flat, oval, wingless insects (about one-fifth of an inch) that are visible to the naked eye. They crawl at a steady rate.
- Like mosquitoes, they bite humans to feed on blood, but unlike mosquitoes, they do not transmit disease.
- They are hardy creatures that can live for up to 18 months without feeding and are able to withstand extreme temperature changes.
- They are nocturnal. During the day, they hide in crevices, bed frames, mattresses and box springs, behind electrical outlet covers and picture frames, inside drawers of furniture, within pleats of curtains, in clothes discarded on the floor, and in other spaces where they are not easily detected.
- They are called bed bugs because they thrive best in beds where people sleep.
- The first sign of a bed bug is often a rash or bite mark and blood spots on linens.
How are Bed Bugs Brought onto Campus?
Bed bugs are generally not carried on your person, but they can be carried in personal possessions such as bedding, suitcases, backpacks, boxes, and furniture.
What is R&DE Student Housing Doing to Prevent Bed Bugs?
In addition to our response protocol to individual cases, Student Housing is engaged in ongoing proactive measures to prevent and contain future cases. These include educational materials for students, staff training, partnership with Vaden Health Services and Stanford’s Environmental Health and Safety office, sharing best practices with peer institutions in the Ivy League and University of California system, and investigation of effective preventative treatments. We have also begun new inspection procedures to identify bed bugs after residents move out and before new residents move in.
What Does R&DE Student Housing Do When Bed Bugs are Discovered?
R&DE Student Housing takes the issue of bed bugs very seriously and has an integrated pest management program in place to deal with cases as soon as they are discovered. We employ Crane Pest Control, a licensed, experienced pest control management company, whose employees are trained to identify and eradicate bed bugs. When a case is confirmed, we determine the appropriate course of action based on the severity of the outbreak. In some cases, it is necessary to relocate the affected students while a room is treated. Crane inspects all personal items in the room and bags them for transport. Clothes need to be laundered or dry cleaned. Except in very unusual cases, all personal items are returned to students as quickly as possible. Carpeting and furniture will be removed if infested. The entire room is generally treated and then restored before students return. The room will be inspected at regular intervals after treatment to ensure that all pests have been eliminated. Our aggressive pest management program allows us to eradicate bed bugs so we do not have repeat incidents in the same rooms.
We understand the stress and burden this problem can create for affected students, and we try to respond sensitively, to assist students with academic issues, to restore their personal possessions as quickly as possible, and to move students back to their rooms as soon as we are confident that the problem has been resolved.
What Can I Do to Help?
Though bed bugs are very rare at Stanford, we need your assistance to avert and contain future cases. As bed bugs are brought into buildings in the belongings of people, here is what you can do to help:
- Learn to identify bed bugs. Review the section that describes bed bugs and consult other resources listed below so you can identify bed bugs. Also be on the lookout for signs of their presence such as blood spots on sheets or an unexplained “rash” on your body.
- If you discover or suspect bed bugs, immediately contact Student Housing. Do not attempt to eradicate them yourself. Successful treatment must be carried out by a trained professional. Contact your local Housing Building Manager or Housing Service Center Supervisor. After hours, please call our maintenance emergency line at (650) 725-1602.
- Seek assistance at Vaden Health Center without delay if you find a rash or marks on your body or blood spots on your sheets. Vaden has protocols in place to identify bed bug bites and is directing students to notify their Student Housing staff of possible cases.
- Inspect your bed periodically. Check for blood spots on your sheets. Lift bedding and mattress. Check in seams, between bedposts and slats, and behind headboards. Use a flashlight at night.
- Inspect your backpack periodically. Bed bugs can hide in backpacks. Check seams and pouches throughout your backpack for bugs or eggs. Do not place your backpack on or under your bed.
- Clean and reduce the clutter in your room to eliminate places for bed bugs to hide during the day.
- Wash clothes and linens frequently in hot water and dryer to kill any possible bugs.
- Don't bring second-hand furniture items onto campus. They can be common breeding grounds for bed bugs.
- When traveling, take precautions to help prevent bringing bed bugs back to campus with you. Inspect the bed you will be using as described above. Check the room, including behind wall hangings. Don't put your suitcase or backpack directly on your bed; whenever possible, elevate them on a luggage rack.
- Before returning to campus, inspect your clothes and other items before packing. Check crevices in suitcases and backpacks.
- After returning to campus, recheck all traveling gear and items within when you unpack. Don’t put your suitcase or backpack on or under your bed.
There are many good resources on bed bugs, including those below:
If you have further questions or need assistance, please contact your local Housing Building Manager or Housing Service Center Supervisor.
Our Commitment to You
We hope that this information provides you with a better understanding of this problem, the actions R&DE Student Housing is taking to address it, and what you can do to help. Providing a safe living environment for our students and residential visitors is our highest priority. Please know that everyone in R&DE is committed to doing everything practicable to manage the impact of this worldwide problem on our campus.