Bedbugs invade file cabinets at SSA offices

SSA buying heat-treatment ovens to deal with pests

If you're not convinced of the value of going paperless, consider this: New York City has a major bedbug infestation, and the pests have spread to the Social Security Administration’s regional offices in Queens, N.Y.

The SSA posted a notice on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site on Aug. 19 that it wants to identify vendors selling a “Bed Bug Heat-Treatment Oven.” The ovens can be used to kill bugs found in small- to medium-sized items.

The biting insects first invaded the SSA’s offices in Queens in December 2009, when the SSA published a notice saying the bugs had infested seven large file cabinets covering five floors of the Jamaica, Queens, building.


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The current infestation affects “several offices” in the Queens building, an SSA executive said today. He asked not to be identified because he is not an official spokesman. The ovens would be used to treat items from those offices, such as clothing, books, papers, chairs and file cabinets, the executive said.

“The bedbugs have been found in a number of stores and government offices in New York,” the SSA executive said. “We will address it as quickly as we can.”

A call to the SSA public affairs office was not immediately returned.

Bedbugs are parasites feed on human blood that have been making a resurgence worldwide in the last decade as a result of widespread air travel. They typically live within mattresses, bed linens, furniture and clothing, but also can survive in books, papers, luggage and electronic items such as lamps and speakers.

Infestations are typically treated with pesticides and ovens.

About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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Reader comments

Sun, Aug 29, 2010 Lou New York

Using a burner and flame to remove the oxygen from enclosure of file cabinets in plastic will not work. There is still enough oxygen available for the insects. Insects don't breathe like vertebrates and that short time period without oxygen is not enough to asphyxiate them. Oxygen would also seep in over time: it really can't be hermetically sealed.

Fri, Aug 27, 2010

This is insane, I WOULD NOT WANT THIS ON ANYONE, I ended up getting bed bugs in my apartment, i almost lost my girlfriend over it. It is insane, i was so stressed out and going crazy, i only had about 10 they said when they came to treat, but i will not stay at a hotel.

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 Shawn Hendricks

If they are confined to file cabinets, create a sealed enclosure of large plastic bags, sealed to the floor with duct tape if formica or some such air tight surface is in place. If on carpet, you should bag the bottom surface. Place a candle 'cage' or other enclosed burner and light it. Use a burning system that will not melt or burn the bags or other flamable objects. Seal the bags and let it burn until the lack of oxygen snuffs the flame. I would only do this in an area with good ventilation. Repeat a few times over the course of a a week to snuff out the bedbugs as all the oxygen is burned. I would leave the seal in place for a half hour after each burn to give time for the bugs to suffocate. This is a thought exercise rather than a tested or proven technique but it should get rid of any pests. It will knock down adult bedbugs, allowing handling to eliminate any remaining eggs.

Fri, Aug 27, 2010 ss DC region

Read in a major newspaper: most bedbugs are found coming from the New York City Area than any other in the USA, according to pest control company Terminex. Now, still yet another bad thing coming OUT of that city--glad I never lived nor stayed there!

Wed, Aug 25, 2010 Alan Elias California

Using an "oven" to kill bed bugs is the right direction, but not well thought through. If you've found bed bugs in file cabinets or other small places, the chances are EXCELLENT that they're already hiding in cracks, crevices, under carpeting, in electronics, etc. Heat is definitely the correct methodology,but you need to heat the entire structure/series of offices, etc. to kill the bug where you can't see them. Go to www.thermapure.com for more info. We have highly trained, ThermaPureHeat (the originator!) in New York!

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