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Bedbug sighting shuts down floor at University of Utah library

Published October 24, 2013 10:06 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

A thirst for blood is competing with students' thirst for knowledge at the University of Utah.

A bedbug sighting at the U.'s Marriott Library led officials to bar students from accessing the building's third floor Thursday as Environmental Health and Safety officials get rid of the parasitic pests.

U. spokeswoman Valoree Dowell said that a patron observed bedbugs in a lounge-area chair on Tuesday.

"In an abundance of caution," it was decided Thursday that although the situation appears contained to two small areas, they should close the floor until they can be sure the bugs have been eradicated.

"It's not terribly unusual" to find pests in a building the size of the Marriott Library, Dowell said, and "there's no health risk."

U. General Safety Manager Liz Hodges said they have no estimate of when the situation will be resolved. The U. has contracted with a pest-control company that will first have a bug-sniffing beagle sweep the building for any other infestations and then determine whether pesticide application or heat treatment is necessary.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the presence of bed bugs "is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found." They often feed on people while they sleep — arguably a common side effect of college textbooks.

For now, students in need of a book on the floor can find help at the reserve desk.

mpiper@sltrib.com

Twitter: @matthew_piper