New Jersey – Bedbugs, infamous blood-sucking insects known for preying on sleeping people and animals, have made their way into the state offices of the Department of Children and Families, and workers are concerned.
Three bedbugs were found in one cubicle on the fourth floor last Thursday at the DCF’s downtown offices at 50 East State Street, according to department spokesman Ernest Landante Jr.
Employees on that floor were permitted to temporarily move to another location within the building as an exterminator treated the affected cubicle and its surrounding area, Landante said Tuesday night in an email.
The exterminator placed bedbug monitors in the office last Thursday. The monitors detected no bedbugs, but workers on Monday nonetheless found a bedbug on the fourth-floor office, Landante confirmed.
“If someone gets bit they are going to have a lawsuit on their hands,” one concerned worker said Tuesday, requesting anonymity for fear of retribution. “They are going to move to other floors if we don’t get people in here to bomb the place or whatever they do to deal with bedbugs.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says: “Bedbugs should not be considered as a medical or public health hazard. Bedbugs are not known to spread disease. Bedbugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.”
A bedbug bite affects each person differently, according to the CDC. “Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction,” the CDC says. “Bedbugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.”
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says “it is very unlikely, though not impossible, that a bedbug infestation will develop in an office, classroom, or other non-residential environment, such as a department store. However, these sites can serve as transfer hubs for bed bugs to hitchhike a ride into your home.”
If a bedbug is found, the EPA advises people to “only treat if a true infestation is found with breeding bedbugs. Remember, a single bed bug is not an infestation.”
In the DCF’s downtown offices, there are seven floors in the state building, which serves as the workplace for about 750 employees, according to people who work there.
“Bedbugs are a serious issue and hard to get rid of,” said another DCF worker who requested anonymity for fear of retribution. “Everyone that works in the building is concerned that they are multiplying and we are concerned if they aren’t exterminated properly there is a risk of us bringing them to our homes and our families.”
The DCF’s spokesman said the state is addressing the issue: “Out of thoroughness and caution, we are taking further remedial actions this week to ensure there are no other issues,” Landante said.
But the perception among some of the employees is that DCF is not doing enough.
“The building remains open and operational,” a worker said, “and management doesn’t seem to be concerned with this at all.”
A presence of bedbugs have surfaced in recent months at the state-run Ann Klein Forensic Center in Trenton, showing the Gov. Chris Christie administration is well-familiar with bedbug issues this year.