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Local motel, home treated for bedbugs

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.

WORTHINGTON -- The Nobles-Rock Community Health Services board on Wednesday discussed a couple of bedbug infestations discovered in recent weeks in Worthington.

The first infestation was reported by a person staying at the Sunset Inn, 1923 Dover St., on Dec. 16. Motel owners immediately disposed of the box spring and mattress in the room, and then had a pest controller fumigate the room and adjacent rooms. Over the course of two weeks, the entire motel was fumigated for the pests.

Jason Kloss, NRCHS Sanitarian, investigated the report.

"I didn't find them right away," said Kloss of the bedbugs. "I found a speck on the box spring, I scraped the speck off and put it on white fabric, and it started to move."

Adult bedbugs are fairly easy to see, but the nymphs are more difficult to detect, he said.

"The motel was very proactive -- they didn't realize they had the problem," Kloss said. "Sometimes these aren't easy things to find."

During the fumigation process, one other room at the Sunset Inn was found to have an infestation of bedbugs.

NRCHS was notified of a second infestation inside a single family rental unit in Worthington. The beds have been removed, but the home has yet to be fumigated.

Bedbugs have become a growing issue across the country, and Kloss said they don't discriminate against any socioeconomic status.

"They're an opportunistic type of creature -- they will infest any type of home (or motel)," he added. "Just because it's a growing problem doesn't mean it's easy to spread or it's everywhere. Having a neighbor with a bedbug problem doesn't mean you're going to have a bedbug problem."

Bedbugs often get transported in luggage or on furniture, which makes it easy for them to be spread to other locations.

The recommended treatment for bedbugs is to contact an exterminator or pest controller to have the place fumigated.

"There are typical household cleaning methods that you can use to minimize your problem, such as vacuuming or laundering your items," Kloss said. "Small problems can be managed ... but when it's let go for a long time and you've got an infestation, it's a bigger problem and it's a long-term problem. It's in everyone's best interest to call in a professional and get them treated."

Bedbugs are nocturnal feeders, meaning they come out at night and feed on human an animal hosts. They are similar to a mosquito in that they bite their host, suck blood, detach and then go back into hiding.

Bedbugs leave behind a bite mark on the host that may itch and cause skin irritations or lesions.

"Some will have bites that really itch," said Kloss.

The next night or a couple of nights later, the bedbugs return for another blood meal. The population grows as adults lay eggs that hatch into nymphs.

"The opportunities for bedbugs will only increase if they have human hosts," Kloss said.

Bedbugs can live dormant for up to six months without a human host.

The presence of bedbugs is not only a quality of life issue, but a public health issue, said Kloss. As sanitarian, he can issue orders for building owners to fumigate the premises if bedbugs are present.

NRCHS board members discussed at their meeting Wednesday afternoon if an ordinance should be established requiring treatment for bedbugs. The matter will be discussed further at next month's meeting.

In other business Wednesday, the NRCHS board:

l Received an update on the tuberculosis outbreak in Nobles County in 2008. The agency learned that it needed to change some of the coding in its reporting, which will increase the amount of insurance money collectable by approximately $12,000 per case.

Public Health Nurse Barb Navara also reported that a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) publication is doing an article on Nobles County's response to TB. The publication is sent to health professionals across the country.

The number of TB cases continues to decline in Nobles County as more individuals complete the therapy and treatment.

l Learned that NRCHS will receive a $10,000 award from the National Association of County and City Health Officials for its participation in the Medical Reserve Corps. The money will be used to supplant the Public Health Preparedness program.

l Re-elected Karen Pfeifer as NRCHS board chairwoman and Dorothy Dorn as vice chairwoman.

Julie Buntjer

Julie Buntjer joined the Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at

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