Ottumwa High School, aerial file photo

OTTUMWA — A bed bug was discovered at OHS, but Principal Richard Hutchinson said there’s no need to worry.

“There are times every once in a while when one pops up,” he said. “We’re being as safe and proactive as we can.”

Hutchinson said only one bug was discovered. After it was captured and identified, the classroom it was discovered in was cleared for cleaning. Students in that classroom were sent home with letters explaining the situation.

The response was in accordance with established district policy. Hutchinson said it was the first appearance of any bed bugs in about a month. The school removed all soft furniture after the last time any were discovered.

While Hutchinson said the insect likely didn’t originate within the school, since there was only one and no signs of infestation, he suggested concerned parents check their students’ bags and belongings.

OHS nurse Angela Shultz, who identified the bug, said the pests can be quite difficult to get rid of.

“Wash everything,” she said.

Shultz said the bugs can be especially hard to detect since they’re nocturnal. Those with infestations will typically notice the insects’ bites, which appear as itchy welts. A series of bites usually appear in straight lines, and Shultz compared the bugs’ appearance to tiny cockroaches.

According to the Iowa Department of Public Health, bed bugs do not carry disease and pose no health risk. If bed bugs are found in clothes or bedding, the IDPH recommends washing with hot water and scrubbing any affected furniture with a stiff brush to remove any eggs.

Jack Langland can be reached at jlangland@ottumwacourier.com.

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