Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite

A building at John Jay College is infested with bugs and officials have shut down the building.

By Eric Luu
|  Thursday, Sep 24, 2009  |  Updated 8:06 PM EDT
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Bed Bugs Bite John Jay College

John Jay's North Hall

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Bed Bugs Bite John Jay College

The school was forced to close down a building today after an infestation was discovered recently.
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Students at John Jay College are bugging out after learning  that one of the school's  buildings will shutdown due to a bed bug infestation.

“I hope the problem gets fixed because it’s going to interrupt everyone,” student Cecilia Sarno, 20, said.

The CUNY school's North Hall was closed Thursday morning and treatment began at 6 p.m. to eradicate a bed bug infestation in the building, university president, Jeremy Travis said in a Town Hall-style forum this afternoon with students and faculty. A panel of speakers spoke and answered questions at the college’s theater.

The infestation started in mid-August when some faculty members reported "skin rashes," said Robert Pignatello, senior vice president  for academic affairs. The school staffers went to the their personal physicians but the bites weren't properly diagnosed as such.

Pignatello said that since then the number of cases has grown to eight.

On Sept 14. the school performed inspections, and the next day a bed bug was found in the registrar’s office, where the school then set up traps. Last Friday, officials found another bug caught in a trap.

Later, dogs trained to find the scent of bed bugs were used to sniff out the infestation, and the school performed more inspections to help make the decision on whether to shut down the building or not.

Wednesday night the first two floors were inspected, but the dogs are effective only a certain amount of time -- after that they get distracted, officials said.

“At 11:30 the dogs were called off”, Pignatello said. “The dogs were only able to inspect a third of the third floor."

Both students and faculty were alarmed by the news of the infestation and the decision to close the building.

Journalism student Jerry Renyel, 21, wondered why the school waited to tell them about the problem.

“There has been lots of broadcast coverage, and it makes me wonder whether the school was just keeping its reputation or whether they care about students,” Renyel said.

School president Travis assured meeting attendees that they delay only came because they wanted to make sure it was the right decision the close the building.

At one point during the meeting, Sarno asked “Has this room been inspected?,” which caused the audience to roar with laughter.

Other buildings will be inspected for any signs of bed bug activity but a schedule has not yet been set, according to the president. He hopes to have the North Hall inspected and treated by the end of next week.

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