- (Illustration: Robert Meganck)
First, the super-secure Ronald Reagan Building was infiltrated by bedbugs. And now, a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services building is dealing with a minor infestation.
Is there any place these nasty little bugs won't go?
The Parklawn HHS building in Rockville has had two separate bedbug incidents that have led to a dispatch of a pest control operator, according to Martin Kramer, director of communications for the Health Resources and Services Administration, an HHS agency that is one of the building's main tenants. Kramer says there have been no other bedbug sightings since the infested areas were treated.
Employees were given information on bedbugs today, and "building management continues to monitor the situation and urges employees to be vigilant," says Kramer.
Though Kramer would not indicate when the sightings or the treatment occurred, an official complaint about biting bugs was filed Monday with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA spokesperson Leni Fortson says the agency contacted the employer, in this case HHS, and asked for information regarding the report. OSHA is awaiting more information before assessing whether they need to send an inspector to the site, according to Fortson.
HHS oversees a number of federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which, along with the Environmental Protection Agency, issued a bedbugs report earlier this year that has guided some local public health officials in how they educate the public on the rise of bedbugs.
In that report, bedbugs are described as a "rapidly increasing" public health problem. The report also says bedbugs are on the rise likely due to "a lack of awareness of the historical and biological link humans have with bed bugs, increased international travel, and past over-reliance on pesticides."
Well, if a health department building has bedbugs, is there any hope for the rest of us?