SWANZEY – According to the organization that owns the property, several units in Page Homestead, an apartment with affordable housing for the elderly, have been bugged in the past few months.
Keith Thibault, development director for Southwestern Community Services – a Keene-based agency providing housing and financial assistance to low-income households in Cheshire and Sullivan counties – said four units in Page Homestead have been treated for bedbugs since SCS became aware of them has issue in autumn.
The final treatment was last week, Thibault said Tuesday, adding that SCS believes it is “completely under control” of the infestation.
Page Homestead on 185 Monadnock Highway (Route 12) has 38 one bedroom apartments.
Bedbugs inhabit both clean and dirty spaces and move between locations by traveling with furniture, bedding, luggage, and clothing, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Thibault found that the insects did not transmit disease or pose a significant health risk to people living in infested units.
“It’s a sensitive issue to deal with, but it is certainly one to put your arms around you,” he said.
Bed bugs that live in private homes feed primarily on human blood and usually bite people when they sleep, according to the NH Department of Health and Human Services. Although most people are unaware of the bites, some may have a localized allergic reaction.
The insects are difficult to remove and usually require professional treatment, according to DHHS.
SCS’s response involved heating the units that were found failing to extremely high temperatures to kill them, Thibault said. (The residents have to leave their homes during the treatment process, which takes several hours.)
He declined to provide any further information on when SCS became aware of the infestation in Page Homestead, citing residents’ privacy.
A notice sent by SCS to a Page Homestead resident whose home was one of the infested states that if bugs are found in a unit, the adjacent units must also be examined for insects and treated if necessary. The temperature in these units can, according to the instruction, reach up to 140 degrees Fahrenheit during the so-called “heat treatment”.
The notice also sets out a number of steps residents must take prior to treatment, including disposing of any mattresses found on any bugs and removing all beds, sheets and pillows. In the notice, SCS warns residents not to remove items from their homes and states that doing so poses a risk of the infestation spreading.
Thibault said Tuesday that SCS is “doing everything it can to respond” and is not aware of any active infections. The organization plans to inspect the unit that was last treated later this week and does not expect any errors, he said.