Marly Difruscio, a freshman majoring in creative writing, said she kept waking up in her bed with what she described as red, itchy bites.
However, between January and March, she wasn’t sure if it was a rash from an allergic reaction or something else.
“I’ll get a good six or seven (bites) a night,” she said. “It looks like a mosquito bite. It’s red but it lasts a lot longer and turns into bruises. They itch really bad.”
Difruscio and her roommate, Olivia Harris, a freshman majoring in animation, said they weren’t sure what was causing the bites, but after washing all the bedding and clothes and doing some research online, they determined it might be bedbugs.
“They looked like mosquito bites, just reddish bumps,” Harris said. “I wasn’t getting bit up, so she thought it was something in her bed. She searched her bed and washed her sheets and found nothing.”
Prior to spring break, Difruscio said she submitted a work request to the maintenance department to check her room for bedbugs. She was informed the visual inspection over break did not find any bugs.
However, the night Difruscio came back from spring break, she said she was bitten again.
“I got really mad,” she said. “It was aggravating for me.”
Difruscio said she received several emails from Mark Hauser, associate director for facilities maintenance in the Housing department, after her second request for maintenance to inspect her room.
In the email, Hauser purportedly said a canine unit would check out the room Thursday morning.
“This is the best inspection on the market today to confirm the existence of bedbugs,” the email said.
Difruscio and her roommates said they received a call from Housing on Thursday night, informing them they needed to be evacuated in order for the room to be treated for bedbugs.
“We had a Bed Bug K9 unit come to your rooms (Thursday) to assist in possibly detecting if there was any bed bug activity in the room,” an email, purportedly from Hauser sent to the residents of the Mu suite on Friday, said. “The dog… on two occasions he indicated that the was able to detect the possibility of a bed bug(s) on the bed … against the door wall, down towards the bottom of the frame/ mattress. The dog showed no other signs or indications that there might have been bed bug(s) in the rest of the room, nor the study area.”
Difruscio and her roommates were relocated by Housing personnel on Friday to an apartment in Holly G, and they were advised to pack enough for four to five days.
Before moving into the new apartment, the roommates were required to dry all clothes they brought with them and change into new clothes, supervised by Hauser’s staff to prevent “traveling” bugs.
In the email, Hauser described the treatment of half of the eight-person suite in Mu, located on west wing of the first floor. Locks on the doors leading to the half of the suite were added, and a heating treatment was scheduled to take place today at 9 a.m.
“The treatment will consist of heating the area to a high temperature 150 degree or higher for 3-4 hours and that will kill any possibility of bed bugs or eggs that might be in the area,” the email said. “It is … the most effective treatment on the market today.”
Though the treatment should be complete and Difruscio and her roommates are scheduled to return to the suite by Monday evening or Tuesday morning, Difruscio said she doesn’t want to return to her room.
“It’s not a condition any student should be living in,” she said. “It’s uncomfortable, its embarrassing, its just not okay. I think the embarrassment is the worse than the itching.
Difruscio said she suffered multiple bites all over her body, including her face, and said she was embarrassed to face customers at her job. Customers, as well as coworkers she said, frequently asked about the bug bites, which often resulted in bruising all over her face and body.
“I understand they are treating the problem, but in most cases online, you have throw out everything infected because (the bugs) came back,” Difruscio said. “I would rather not go back to my dorm room and (the bugs) come back, I really don’t want to go back. I asked my mom if she could contact the director of housing and see if they could talk about it.”
According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website, bedbugs are considered a public health pest. The Purdue University website for Vector Biology and Vector-Borne Diseases states bedbugs, which feed on blood, are carriers of at least 27 disease causing agents such as viruses, bacteria and parasites, but there is not any evidence proving the bugs can transmit infectious diseases.
Bug infestations can be identified by finding live bugs, which are small dark insects about 5 mm in length, or by tell tale signs such as rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses caused by bedbugs being crushed, the website states.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited from its original version to reflect corrections.