Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) staff had to jump into action after the Cimex species – better known as bed bugs – was spotted in two zones of the facility this week.
“I can confirm that we found a small number of bed bugs in two isolated areas of the hospital this week,” Mandy Lowery, KBRH’s acute health services director, told the Trail Times.
“When this was discovered, we immediately brought in our housekeeping and infection control teams to ensure that those areas were appropriately cleaned, and review if there was a risk that bed bugs could have moved to other areas of the hospital.”
Other than the two isolated locations, there is no evidence or reports of bed bugs elsewhere in the hospital, Lowery said.
“We continue to monitor.”
In addition to treating the two areas, staff was given the heads up by their department leaders.
“To ensure they were aware and to follow appropriate procedures to limit any spread of bed bugs,” Lowery continued.
“Our laundry procedures would destroy any bed bugs on linens, and housekeeping and a pest control agency we enlisted have done a terminal clean of the identified areas using steam – high heat is an effective way of destroying bed bugs.”
A special aerosol was used to clean one mattress that has internal electronics, as steam cleaning would have damaged the specialized equipment. This method of cleaning took place away from any patient care area.
How the parasites got into the hospital is unknown, though Lowery suspects it was most likely by attaching themselves to articles of clothing and/or personal effects.
Cases of bed bugs in Interior Health hospitals have been rare, and prior to this week, Lowery says there have been no recent cases at KBRH.
“The comfort of our patients and staff is important to us,” she added. “So we do take cases of bed bugs at our facility seriously, even though they do not transmit disease.”
Bed bugs, classified as blood-sucking parasites on warm-blooded hosts, are a small reddish-brown oval shaped insect with a flattened body.
The insects are not associated with the transmission of human disease, but their bite can cause welts or localized swelling in some. The main concern is risk of secondary infection from scratching the lesions.
It is important to stress that there is no evidence that bed bugs spread disease to people in Canada, and there are no health issues in B.C. associated with bed bugs.