Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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OHIO launching bedbug awareness campaign

Ohio University is launching an informational campaign aimed at educating the Athens Campus about bedbugs, bedbug prevention and how the University addresses bedbug occurrences.

The campaign is being developed in response to increased reports of bedbug activity throughout the United States and particularly in several Ohio cities.

According to a report issued by Terminix this past summer, Cincinnati topped the list of U.S. cities experiencing bedbug activity based on data compiled from 300 of the company's U.S. branches. Columbus ranked fifth on the list.

The report also identified the 15 U.S. cities experiencing the largest increases in bedbug occurrences. Bedbug reports in Columbus were identified as being up 47 percent while bedbug activity in Cleveland was reported as being up 36 percent.

Athens County and Ohio University are not immune to bedbugs.

Earlier this semester, the Athens City-County Health Department reported receiving weekly reports of bedbug activity.

"There was a definitely a time in my career that bedbugs seemed like a throwback," said Chuck Hammer, administrator of the Athens City-County Health Department. "Now we see them all the time."

According to Hammer, earlier this semester the health department had three to four individuals come into the office within a week with specimens that were confirmed as bedbugs.

Since the fall of 2011, Ohio University's Athens Campus has had seven confirmed cases of bedbugs, according to Chad Keller, environmental health coordinator in the University's Environmental Health and Safety Department.

"That's real minimal for a residential campus of our size," said Keller whose office is responsible for responding to bedbug reports when they occur on campus.

In an effort to keep those numbers low, the University's bedbug informational campaign will include a number of educational tools, including residence hall programming, informational videos and Compass articles.

The campaign is also being added to the University's Health Alerts series, a website dedicated to proactively empowering the University community with knowledge and resources to address the less-talked-about health and safety issues facing today's college students, faculty and staff. The University's bedbug information page is available at http://www.ohio.edu/healthalerts/bedbugs/.

Spearheaded by OHIO's Environmental Health and Safety Department in conjunction with Residential Housing, the campaign seeks to prevent bedbug occurrences on the Athens Campus by leveraging knowledge and expertise and by educating the entire campus.

"The term 'bedbug' is a misnomer," said Keller, noting that bedbugs have been found in office buildings, hospitals, retail stores, movie theaters, airplanes, buses, personal transportation and pretty much anywhere human beings are.

"The purpose of this campaign is to provide the Athens Campus information on identifying bedbugs as well as directing students, faculty and staff to report concerns when they have them," said Pete Trentacoste, executive director of Residential Housing at OHIO and a nationally recognized expert on bedbugs and bedbug strategies for colleges and universities. Trentacoste has spoken at the North American Bedbug Summit.

"Ohio University takes bedbug reports very seriously and has implemented a comprehensive pest management program to deal with cases when they are brought to our attention," Keller said. "While we cannot fully prevent bedbug occurrences from happening, we want the OHIO community to know that when incidents do occur we will take care of them from start to finish, and we don't play the blame game."

For more information on bedbugs, visit http://www.ohio.edu/healthalerts/bedbugs/