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This photo depicts an adult bedbug. Bedbugs have been discovered in a Worthington motel, as well as in a rental house in the Worthington community.

Bedbugs found in two more places

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Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

WORTHINGTON -- Two more cases of bedbug infestations have been reported to Nobles-Rock Community Health Services in the last week, bringing the total number of investigations to four in Worthington.

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Jason Kloss, NRCHS Sanitarian, said the two new cases involve a unit in a local apartment complex, as well as a residential rental home. The first two locations included a residential rental home and a motel, which responded immediately to the discovery by fumigating its entire facility.

Bedbugs can easily be spread on luggage, clothing, furniture and mattresses, said Kloss, adding that people should not be taking things like furnishings, box springs or mattresses that have been thrown in dumpsters or placed on curbs.

"Never pick up furniture or mattresses from the side of the street -- that is the first lesson to be learned here," said Kloss, who investigated all four of the reported bedbug infestations. "Simply picking one up because you need a mattress is not a good plan at all. The infestation may be very evident on the mattress (or box spring) or it may not be."

Adult bedbugs are about the size of a wood tick and can easily be spotted, while the nymphs, or young bedbugs, are less easy to notice. They can best be seen against a light background.

"They like to hide in box springs (and) behind headboards. On a mattress, (the nymph) may be just a little black spot," Kloss said.

Bedbugs typically come out of hiding at night to take a blood meal while individuals are sleeping. They multiply at a fast pace and can survive for up to six months without a human host.

The two new cases of bedbugs are in places where tenants are more transient -- rental properties, which may also explain how the bedbug infestation began.

"These are all properties with people moving in and moving out, where the risk of increasing and spreading (bedbugs) increases immensely," said Kloss. "If you've lived in your home for 20 years, your risk is a lot lower, but you still have potential to bring (the pests) in."

Bedbug infestations are a growing problem across the United States, and Kloss is quick to point out they can impact any city, any community and any property. The pests know no socio-economic boundaries.

The key is to address the issue as quickly as possible to prevent further spread of bedbugs.

In the case where bedbugs were found in one unit of an apartment complex, quick action is imperative.

"Right now it's in the one apartment, but certainly there's potential for migration," said Kloss. "Anytime you deal with these creatures, not only do they move with furniture, they can move from one apartment to the next.

"I don't know how good they are at doing that, but it can happen," he added. "It's similar to roaches -- you get a large enough population and they're going to move out and migrate into different areas."

While tossing out mattresses and box springs infested with bedbugs is the first step to getting rid of the pests, it certainly isn't going to solve the problem.

"It's important that you deal with it appropriately, do the necessary cleaning and consult with a licensed pest controller," Kloss said.

There are over-the-counter products available that claim to treat bedbugs, but Kloss said they don't work adequately enough to rid the pests from a home. The products don't contain enough of the pesticide needed to eradicate bedbugs, and may only provide a temporary mask to the problem.

"These bugs can hide in seams, on furniture, under furniture and in carpets," said Kloss. "Unless you have a comprehensive plan of attack, you're only going to treat the symptom rather than the problem."

Kloss said when it comes to ridding a place of bedbugs, people shouldn't "take the cheap way out." Licensed pest controllers are best equipped to respond to the infestations.

"If it's your own property, you have to deal with it," said Kloss. "In rental property, work with your landlord to collectively solve the problem. If the landlord and you cannot work out an agreement, that's where we (at public health) get involved."

Kloss said public health has a nuisance statute to address infestation problems, which can be enforced if a landlord doesn't want to take action against bedbugs.

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Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer joined the Daily Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington and graduate of Worthington High School, then-Worthington Community College and South Dakota State University, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. At the Daily Globe, Julie covers the agricultural beat, as well as Nobles County government, watersheds, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework (cross-stitch and hardanger embroidery), reading, travel, fishing and spending time with family. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at www.farmbleat.areavoices.com.
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