Bed bug problem? The truth about the tiny insects spotted at some local schools

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Bed bugs…they have become a pesky problem in schools across Northeast Ohio.  But, health officials say the problem may not be quite as extreme as it might seem.

From Parma to Lorain to Canton, local school districts have been battling bed bugs in recent weeks.  Sightings of the tiny insects have caused some schools to cancel classes while exterminators are called in.

Tom Barsa, with the Cuyahoga County Board of Health, says he doesn't believe the parasites have become more prevalent, but schools are quicker to notify parents if one is discovered.

"If you're talking about a school building, typically it's gonna be an introduction as opposed to an infestation or an outbreak that people like to talk about, and that would just be one or two coming in on a student's belonging, and then if you get rid of those one or two, the problem is over," he said.

Barsa says bed bugs usually don't breed in a school environment.  They like to feed off of blood from people while they are sleeping.  The bugs hide in places like mattresses, clothing and furniture.  They are an indoor pest, so the weather does not affect them.

"Really they don't transmit disease, but they do cause psychological effect, so you do have the stigma," Barsa said.

"We found a few under my bed and ended up getting a steam cleaner and steamed the carpets and ended up bagging up the beds and the pillows and all that stuff, pretty much cleaned the house and took apart the room," said one Northeast Ohio resident.

"I live with my nieces and I don't want them to get it and they pass it around and it's getting everywhere," said another resident.

Health officials say vacuuming and removing clutter can help eliminate the insects, but they recommend using a professional that will know which products are most effective.

"They could put their clothes, their belongings, anything that go into a dryer on high heat for 30 minutes, will kill all life stages of the bed bugs, but it's where they hide, all the cracks and crevices; it's very difficult to find all of them," said Barsa.

Health officials say even though schools are not dealing with infestations, bed bugs are becoming more common in homes, apartments, hotels and dormitories in the area.

They can be transported to different locations by someone’s clothing or bag.

The health department is sponsoring a Bed Bug Conference on November 5 at the Grace Christian and Missionary Alliance Church on Pearl Road in Middleburg Heights.

CLICK HERE for more on the conference and to read more about the Cuyahoga County Bed Bug Task Force.

CLICK HERE to read more stories on bed bugs.