(INDIANAPOLIS) - An infestation of bedbugs discovered in a room at the Riley Hospital for Children has been contained, a spokeswoman for the Indiana University Health said Monday.
Independent pest control contractors were called in to fumigate the room after a patient's family complained of bites on their bodies at the weekend, IU Health spokeswoman Abby Gras said.
The affected room will stay sealed until the contractors have inspected it again and declared it free of bugs, she said.
"This is our standard procedure, and we take the proper precautions," Gras said. She would not say which pesticides were used or which contractors applied them.
She said that room is now empty and that the surrounding rooms have been inspected and declared bug-free.
Bedbugs are wingless, reddish-brown insects that bite people and animals to draw blood for their meals. Their bites can cause itching and welts. While bed bugs themselves don't spread diseases, they contain an allergen that can induce asthma attacks, much like cockroaches, and in rare cases repeated bug bites can cause anemia.
Experts warn that bedbugs have built up an uncannily good tolerance for pesticides and that there are always residual dangers associated with the use of such chemicals.
"Any time you use pesticides around people, including children, you always need a lot of caution," said Timothy Gibb, an entomologist at Purdue University. "In a hospital, you have to be more sensitive, since people in a hospital are already compromised."
Gras said the pesticides were isolated to one, empty room rather than an entire hospital wing and were applied by professionals.
Gibb said that since bedbugs are a relatively new threat to Indiana, hospitals haven't yet had the chance to teach their staff how to spot signs of a potential infestation, such as blood stains on bed sheets and fecal matter.
"It's a matter of education, making people aware and getting them on board," Gibb said.
Researchers at The Ohio State University found last year that some bedbugs have a gene that breaks down most common pesticides, which they believe may be a factor in the bug's resurgence.
Have a question or comment about a news story? Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org