HEALTH

Bed bugs found at D.C. hospital

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The D.C. Department of Health confirmed that United Medical Center is dealing with its second case of bed bugs since March.

DOH spokesperson Dena Iverson said a patient complained about being bitten on Tuesday, May 17. She said a pest control technician came to the hospital that day.

Iverson said bed bugs were found in two rooms. While those rooms were treated, "[the hospital] moved everyone out of that area," she said.

According to a source who declined to be identified, as many as six rooms may have been treated as a precaution.

Just two months ago, on March 7, UMC said a patient was discovered with bed bugs in the hospital's psychiatric unit. Extermination began on March 8. In that incident, hospital staff said bed bug sniffing dogs detected the bugs in only one patient room. However, four rooms in total were treated as a precaution.

According to Iverson, the rooms received a chemical treatment rather than a heat treatment. She said using chemicals is equally effective as using heat to kill bed bugs. However, chemicals take longer because they require a different application method.

Iverson also said the bugs were tested for MRSA. The test results are still pending.

Scientists in Canada recently found the pests are able to carry the dangerous staph infection MRSA or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

It is unclear where in the hospital this latest outbreak was located. United Medical Center has not returned calls or emails for comment.

D.C. law does not require hospitals - or any business, for that matter - to disclose bed bug incidents to health officials or the public. However, DOH officials say they were notified by UMC.

DOH has also offered to train UMC staff on how to identify and respond to bed bugs.

Iverson said "hospitals are like hotels." With frequent visitors and close sleeping quarters, environments like hospitals and hotels can create ideal conditions for a bed bug infestation.

According to Iverson, the rooms have received a chemical treatment to kill the bugs. She said using chemicals is as effective as the more traditional heat treatments. However, chemicals take longer because they require a different application method.

Iverson also said the bugs found last week were tested for MRSA. The test results are still pending.

After studying hospitals in Canada, scientists recently found that bed bugs are able to carry the dangerous staph infection MRSA or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.

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