911 was reporting the emergency for a change, when dispatchers at the St Louis Emergency Communications Center spotted bed bugs in their office. Only two were found, both killed on sight by employees, but that was more than enough to warrant clearing out the office for a pest control treatment.
When the second bug was killed, an employee sent a photo to the city’s Buildings Division. Officials there contacted a local pest control company, who confirmed that the bug pictured was a bed bug.
The dispatchers were moved to a secondary site while the treatment was in process so that emergency services wouldn’t be interrupted. They’ll have to move again Tuesday for the second half of the treatment procedure. Since a heat treatment would risk damaging the computers in the office, exterminators used a chemical method instead.
St Louis police spokesperson Schron Jackson stated that no other bed bugs have been sighted. To help avoid future infestations, the call center’s employees have been asked to refrain from bringing any blankets to work, Jackson added. The workers were also told to inspect their homes for signs of bed bugs, and to wash and dry their clothes on high heat.
St Louis’ dispatch center is just one of several public buildings confirmed to have had bed bugs in recent weeks. Libraries, homeless shelters, hospitals, and many more have fallen victim to the bloodsuckers this summer. St Louis in particular has seen quite a spike in bed bug activity this year, showing a 40% increase in reported infestations over last year.
Bed bug infestations in an office environment are a tough pill to swallow. All it takes is one employee to bring bed bugs from home or public transit, and everyone at the office is at risk of exposure. For the same reason, treating the office for bed bugs won’t do much to prevent future risk. It’s important for businesses to be aware of the bed bug threat, and to educate their workers on how to prevent bed bugs at home (and how to avoid bringing them to work).