Washing machine installed at Glasgow school following bed bug infestation

A washing machine and tumble dryer are to be installed at a school in Glasgow following an infestation of bed bugs. 

St Bride's Primary is located in the Strathbungo area, which Glasgow City Council said had been affected by pest control issues for several years. 

The council said free to use washing and drying machines are to be installed in the school in the coming months to help tackle the issue and will be used to boil wash clothes of children whose families do not have available facilities.

A council spokeswoman said: "Our schools play an active and important role in many different issues affecting their local community - offering support and advice to their families far beyond learning and teaching. 

"Supporting our children and our staff are a top priority and while challenging for all, we are working with a number of agencies to do all that we can to put measures in place that will help the school manage the situation. 

"This must be done as sensitively as possible so that there is no stigma for our children and families."

The council said that it had been working to deal with pest control issues in Govanhill for some time. Pest control officers also visited the school in March and two other visits are planned before the new term in August.

The council spokeswoman added: "The measures introduced in the school are having an impact with no active sightings in the school since January and no additional staff affected.

"This includes hosting information sessions - inviting along other professionals, as appropriate - to help educate families with problems affecting their homes that can sometimes have an impact on schools."

Tom Bell, Chief Executive of REHIS was asked to provide an informed view to the Evening Times and offered a general view of bed bugs and treatment of infestation and not a comment on the particular school of interest.

 

The followiNg was advised:

How could bed bugs get into a school in the first place?

Bed Bugs are an increasingly common pest across the world – perhaps the increased movement of people over and within national borders is a factor – domestic and international travel, and migration have increased in recent years.

Bed Bugs are more likely to be found in harbourages within close proximity of the human host – carpet edges, skirting boards, loose wallpaper, bed leg/head joints and folds in bed mattresses. They can be carried from e.g. the home into a school on clothes and bedding and if these clothes and bedding are left in a warm room adult Bed Bugs may leave the safety of the clothing/bedding and lay eggs in harbourages described above before seeking a human host to feed on.

With repeated visits, is there a possibility that this was caused by re-infestation from staff and/or pupils? 

Re-infestation of a treated premises is very possible if staff/pupils return to the school from infested homes – see above.

Is there a possibility that, if the bugs have not been eradicated from people's homes, as well as schools, that these could return if not properly policed? 

This scenario is highly likely. Homes should also be appropriately surveyed and treated – this can be especially difficult if houses are overcrowded as there are likely to be many personal possessions and more furniture making effective/targeted application of insecticide difficult to achieve. Reluctance by an occupier to admit that their house may be infested along with practical difficulties associated with gaining access are two of many obstacles to efficient and effective control in homes.

What treatments could have been used to rid the school of the bugs? Is there a chance, with repeated exposure to these chemicals, that this could be damaging to people's health in the long term if exposure continues? 

There are chemical and non-chemical treatments available to treat Bed Bugs but the most usual in the situation you describe would be a chemical treatment.

If this is the case then the Council will have engaged a trained and competent organisation to carry out a pre-treatment survey to establish the presence and location of any infestation – this is best practice and should always be undertaken. A number of chemical insecticides are available for eradication of such an infestation. All will have to have been licensed for use in given situations and personnel will have been trained and deemed competent to apply the insecticide appropriately and safely (for themselves and for anyone using the premises – teachers, students, visitors and ancillary staff.

Treatments/repeat treatments should only be undertaken if there is evidence of infestation/re-infestation. Occasionally bites on humans are deemed to indicate infestation in one premises when the reality is that the human was bitten in a different premises. Knowledge of the lifecycle of the Bed Bug is essential if treatments are to properly control the infestation. Adult females lay eggs (up to 25 each week) and the eggs hatch within between 4/5 days (in warm conditions) and 17/18 days (in cold or hot conditions). Eggs hatch and nymphs emerge – there are five nymphal stages before Bed Bugs mature into adults – egg to adult stage can take between 36 and 128 days. Schools tend to be warm all day especially within term times so development between eggs hatching and nymphs reaching adult stage will be quicker. Insecticides should therefore be reapplied at intervals which take account of the lifecycle – re-treatments should be undertaken after perhaps two/three weeks to allow eggs to hatch and for first stage nymphs to emerge.

Potentially infested bedding/clothing should be removed from the infested room and washed at as hot a temperature as the fabric will allow. Tumble drying at a temperature as hot as the fabric will allow should follow. No untreated bedding/clothing should be re-introduced to the treated room and the treated room should not be vacuum cleaned between treatments.

All insecticides used in the UK are licensed and approved by Government for use in particular situations. The application of these insecticides is also regulated and all personnel fully trained in the appropriate use of them. Staff and students should be kept out of the treated rooms in line with advice from the manufacturer’s which should be relayed to the staff by the personnel applying the insecticide in question. Ill health resulting from exposure to insecticides in the UK is very unlikely.

REHIS is a registered charity in Scotland, SC009406

Web design by Peacock Carter Ltd