The city health department was alerted about bed bugs in the library as early as July 1, according to the Middletown Eye, when a patron complained of being bit. It wasn't until the mayor was alerted July 27 that the library was closed, the Eye reports.
UPDATED: 8 p.m.
Editor's Note: The attached PDF from the state Department of Public Health offers information on identifying and what to do if you have [or suspect] bed bugs.
Mayor Dan Drew says the public library "will be closed for a minimum of several days" after the discovery of bed bugs in two areas on Tuesday.
The in Middletown was abruptly closed, according to Library Director Arthur Meyers, at 5 p.m. "We had an exterminator last night but then we decided we needed to seek specialized help, so to be on safe side, we ... will be closed [Wednesday]," he said, as a preventative measure.
Mayor Dan Drew issued a press release which said the public library, at 123 Broad St., will be closed until further notice.
Middletown Patch reached Drew by phone Tuesday evening.
"The health department got an anonymous call about a bed bud in a DVD case and staff confirmed there were bed buds in the adult DVD area and the upstairs adult computer area," Drew says.
"We're bringing in specialized dogs who are able to sniff them out because they're so difficult to see with the naked eye. It's a fairly extensive process. They have to go through the entire library. There are two isolated areas we know of right now," Drew said.
"And I hope that's the extent of them living in the library."
It's the first time he knows of the Russell Library having such a problem. "In these transient places where there's a large population of the public, we're more at risk for these sort of things," Drew explained. He did characterize bed bugs as a "nuisance pest," nothing that can transmit diseases.
"No one is going in until I'm confident it's safe. There's absolutely no doubt about that," Drew said. He'll be meeting with the health department, library staff and others Wednesday to assess the situation.
The library is a sometimes daylong haven for people of all ages, especially in summer when it's air-conditioned and children are out of school.
Judy Bednarz, who grew up in Middletown, is office manager at Advanced Pest Co. in Newington. She's seen plenty of such pest infestations in her 19 years in the extermination business.
"Bedbugs are the new roaches as far as transporting problems go," she says. "People could be bringing them in their backpacks or pocketbooks."
"This is not unusual," she says, and although familiar with the Russell Library, couldn't say how exactly an exterminator would handle a place so large.
"The library is more difficult because you'll have to go through all the books," Bednarz says. Advanced Pest Co. does two types of treatments: heat, in which the home (or business) is heated to 120 degrees, or liquid, where mattresses, box springs, bed frames, floor area, chairs and couches are sprayed.
Bednarz said she recalls other places having to be closed for bed bugs. "We heard about all those stores [in 2010] — Victoria's Secret, Nike shoes store, movie theaters in New York."
These pests are small and not so easy to find in a large building. "They're the size of the top of a pencil eraser," Bednarz says, and encourages anyone who might have come in contact with bed bugs to check their bags, clothing, shoes and any items they may have checked out.
According to the Connecticut Department of Public Health, "Bed bugs are parasites that preferentially feed on humans. They need to feed on blood to grow and reproduce. There are two species of human bed bug, the common bed bug, Cimex lectularius L. and the tropical bed bug C. hemipterus Fabr. In the past decade, bed bugs have begun making a comeback across the United States, although they are not considered to be a major pest."
The library is quarantined until exterminators can assess the situation. Any patrons who wish to drop off library materials must place them in a sealed plastic bag before they are returned so staff can prevent further infestation.
This is being done as a preventative measure so to ensure minimal re-introduction of the pests.
Residents who suspect that they have bedbugs in their home are advised to contact the Health Department at (860) 344-3481 for an inspection.
Advanced Pest Co. can be reached online or by calling (860) 666-5730.