NBC 4 New York
Officials are trying to stem parents' fears over bedbugs after two bedbugs were found at PS 188 on the Lower East Side in the last two months. Andrew Siff reports.
Two bedbugs have been found at a Lower Manhattan elementary school since early January, and at least one parent says her child came home with bug bites.
PS 188 on the Lower East Side confirmed there was a bedbug sighting in early January, and then again last week.
Workers vacuumed and cleaned after the first sighting, and the school scheduled another cleaning for Wednesday, said Department of Education spokeswoman Margie Feinberg. City policy does not allow schools to use chemicals or sprays.
Tania Camacho said her 6-year-old daughter came home with bug bites on her neck, just after she received a letter from the school notifying her of a "confirmed bedbug" in a classroom.
"Unfortunately, I ended up having them in my home," she said.
But Feinberg said, “Schools are not hospitable environments for bed bugs and are brought in from the outside, usually in a bag or on clothing.”
School officials told NBC 4 New York that people tend to overreact when they encounter the bloodthirsty critters.
In an educational packet the DOE regularly distributes, the official line is, “While bedbugs are a nuisance and can be worrisome, they are not known to cause or spread disease.”
The confirmed school bedbug sighting comes amid some encouraging numbers about the bedbug epidemic: the numbers of bedbug-related 311 calls has decreased 17 percent over the past eight months, from 21,620 between July 2011 and February 2012, to 17,881 calls between July 2012 and February 2013.
None of that makes Camacho feel better.
"It's just nasty," she said. "They're very hard to get rid of. It's not easy."