Bed Bug Identification and Management Guidelines for Schools

At this time, public health scientific evidence does not show that bed bugs spread disease. Students should not be excluded from school due to bed bugs. If a suspected bed bug is found on a student or their belongings, the school nurse, school principal or principal designee should privately and with dignity, follow these guidelines.

  1. Discreetly remove the child from the classroom so the school nurse or a qualified individual can perform an inspection of the child’s clothing and other belongings (including but not limited to: shoes, jackets, hats, books, backpacks, school supplies, etc.). Place any of the child’s unneeded items, such as book bags, into a large plastic bag and tightly seal the bag. If the school has a washer or dryer available, the school may wish to wash and dry the clothing on the high heat setting.
  2. Check areas where the student sits or affected belongings may be placed for extended periods of time. Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers, and though they only feed on humans and rapidly retreat, they can be found in many locations.
  3. Try to collect the specimen(s) using a tissue or a piece of gauze. Try not to crush the bugs. Multiple specimens can be very helpful in identification of the insect. If submitted insects are missing antennae, legs, or body segments, a precise identification often cannot be made. Please take measures so you do not call undue attention to any child. You may destroy other bugs found after submission by placing them in a sealed bag and disposing the bag in the trash. VERY IMPORTANT: If a specimen is found on a student or the student’s belongings, remove the specimen as instructed above, but do not send the student home. The parents are to be notified by the school nurse, principal or the principal designee, if the specimen is a confirmed bed bug.
  4. Listed below are two local services available to identify insects. Please do not send live specimens via any postal or shipping service as insects can escape during shipment. Keep in mind, the post office will not deliver packages that leak. Be sure to check the websites for proper submission protocols.
    • The Ohio Department of Health (ODH) offers free service to Ohio residents:
      www.odh.ohio.gov/odhPrograms/dis/zoonoses/vbdp/vb_dref.aspx
    • The Ohio State University offers services for a small fee:
      www.ppdc.osu.edu
  5. Once received by the pest diagnostic agency, an entomologist will examine the specimen and then notify the school designee of the bug’s identification within two days of receipt.
  6. After positive identification, the school principal or the school nurse should provide the school community with the following information:
    • Parent or Guardian notification letter (available from web site)
    • Resources and additional information are available on Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force web site at www.centralohiobedbugs.org.
  7. Contact the parents or guardian to inform them of the bed bug presence on their child.
    • Suggest clean, freshly laundered (on high heat setting) and sealed change of clothing be sent to school (as long as needed).
    • Send only essential items to school with the student and inspect items upon arrival at school. If possible, the school could offer to keep non-essential items overnight to help ensure the items are bed bug free.
    • Suggest keeping school items sealed in a plastic bag or tote at home and limit items going back and forth from home to school until infestation is treated.
  8. Ongoing pest management should be overseen by the school principal or designee.
  9. When the decision is made that pesticides are going to be applied at the school for the control or prevention of bed bugs, the school should verify that their employee, or the pest control company, is properly licensed to apply pesticides. A list of licensed pest control companies and applicators can be located at www.agri.ohio.gov. From the homepage, click on “pesticide regulation” then “online services” followed by “licensed company search” or “licensed people search.” Ask the company, “what is your experience with bed bugs?” (Bug bombs are not effective).
  10. Vacuuming procedures to follow where bed bugs are found:
    • Vacuum affected areas where bed bugs are found during normal after-school cleaning schedule.
    • Sprinkle about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of talcum powder on the last section of floor to be vacuumed.
    • Remove the bag and place in a tightly sealed plastic garbage bag.
    • Do not use the same vacuum bag if moving to an uninfested area.
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