Bed bugs close central library for treatment

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan A sign posted on a lower door of the Dorchester County Central Library announces the site’s temporary closure.

Dorchester Banner/Dave Ryan
A sign posted on a lower door of the Dorchester County Central Library announces the site’s temporary closure.

CAMBRIDGE – Bed bugs have made a nationwide comeback in recent years, and they have hit local libraries, requiring their temporary closure.

“On Oct. 1, a regular maintenance check for bed bugs revealed that both the Cambridge and Hurlock branches of the Dorchester County Public Library have bed bugs,” a statement from library administrators said. “Since the discovery, both branches have been closed while being treated. On Oct. 3, the Cambridge branch received a heat treatment, with Hurlock being treated the following day.”

In a whole-room heat treatment, specially designed equipment is brought in to raise the temperature.

“Bed bugs and eggs die within 90 minutes at 118 degrees, or immediately at 122 degrees,” the University of Minnesota’s website says. “During a heat treatment, the air temperature in the room is typically between 135 and 145 degrees.”

Thermometers are typically placed around the infested area to make sure the proper temperature has been reached.

In the years following the Second World War, the chemical DDT was used extensively to fight pests including bed bugs. But concerns about the compound’s environmental impact and health risks led to its being banned in the United States for agricultural use in 1972.

Since then, pesticide-resistant bed bugs have developed, and have made themselves a nuisance around the country.

Hurlock’s treatment was completed on Thursday. It was successful and the branch was opened on Friday.

“However, the central branch in Cambridge was checked again and it was found that the treatment was incomplete,” the statement said. “Out of respect for the health and safety of our community, we decided the Cambridge branch would need to undergo another heat treatment. Unfortunately, the next available date for a follow-up treatment is not until Oct. 13, making Oct. 15 the earliest date we can re-open the Cambridge branch.”

The library will not charge fines owed for items originally due during the Oct. 1-13 closure. Materials can still be returned in the outside book drops.

Requested items will remain on the holds shelf for a full week after the library reopens. All library programs scheduled for next week are canceled.

“We apologize for the inconvenience this has caused, and everyone at the Dorchester County Public Library appreciates your patience,” the statement said.

In an online conversation, Tony Thomas expressed his gratitude for the actions. “Thanks for looking out for us,” he said.

Dave Ryan is editor of the Dorchester Banner. He can be reached at dryan@newszap.com.

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