Mattresses aid in bedbug prevention

Despite recent outbreaks of bedbugs in New York City this summer, there have yet to be any cases of bedbugs at the University, an official said last week.

Bedbugs have been reported in GW residence halls in the past, but no cases have been reported so far this semester, University spokeswoman Michelle Sherrard confirmed in an e-mail.

In an effort to prevent an outbreak or spread of the critters – who leave a series of bite marks similar to mosquito bites on their victims – the University began to use mattress encasements that are certified as “bedbug-bite proof” by an entomology laboratory.

Sherrard said the inverted-seam mattresses used are considered the most bedbug-resistant mattresses available.

“There have only been about two dozen confirmed cases in the last three years and most of those cases were traced to bugs brought to GW by unsuspecting residents,” Sherrard said. “Most service requests for suspected [bedbugs] were not confirmed as [bedbugs] after an [on-site] inspection was completed.”

Each summer the University purchases replacement mattresses for residence halls as part of bedbug prevention, Sherrard said.

“Since JBKO was already offline this past summer for other repairs, it was a natural choice for this year’s replacement,” Sherrard said. “Also, additional mattresses are routinely purchased when necessary during the school year.”

Those mattresses that do get bedbugs aren’t removed, however.

“It is explicit practice to not remove mattresses with bedbugs since relocation risks further transportation/migration of the pest. Instead, the mattress is encased in a protective envelope to seal/contain any pests and interceptor collars are installed on bed post footings to monitor insect activity and prevent bugs from using the post to migrate from floor to mattress (or reverse),” Sherrard said.

Bedbug treatments need to be repeated at least twice over two weeks to ensure all bugs are killed. Sherrard said Residential Property Management coordinates treatment of rooms with students.

To check cases of bedbugs around campus and D.C., the website is available for free. It allows anyone to post incidents of bedbugs in cities in the U.S. and Canada, and D.C. seems to have a steady number of bedbug cases reported in recent months.

Near GW’s campus, an Aug. 5 report for 2430 Pennsylvania Ave. identifies one room at the Melrose Hotel as allegedly having bedbugs.

“I fell asleep for about a three hour nap and woke up covered in bites!!,” the anonymous post reads.

The website has tracked hotels and other schools like Georgetown University that have been affected by bedbugs since 2006.

“Since Georgetown and many areas around D.C. have had bedbugs, I think it is necessary for GW to take actions against bed bugs,” said Sarveshwari Singh, a GW sophomore.

Another sophomore, Alyssa Edwards, said she thinks GW “has done a pretty good job by using covered [bedbug- proof] mattresses. My friend did not get a covered mattress and I think it is important for GW to continue to take actions against bedbugs,” Edwards said.

In order to fight bedbugs on campus, Sherrard said “GW’s Pest Control team performs an [on-site] inspection for all bedbug claims to determine the nature and substance, since treatment methods vary for different insects.”

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