Bed bugs persist at work release center

EVERETT — Bed bugs remain stubborn squatters and lousy bunk mates in the Snohomish County Work Release Center.

A months-long series of steaming and chemical treatments inside an inmate dorm hasn’t rid the jail of its blood-thirsty guests.

On Jan. 21, a work release trustee reported his bites to the Snohomish County Health District. Through his attorney, he described bites on his abdomen and said a fellow inmate needed medical treatment after being bitten on the eyelid.

The health district has no specific laws, or program, to address bed bug problems

Bed bugs are tiny wingless insects that feed on warm-blooded animals, mainly when they are asleep. They aren’t known to spread disease, but can cause insomnia, anxiety and allergic reactions. Scratching the bites can cause secondary skin infections.

Work release trustees have been complaining about the infestation since summer. One man serving time on a drunken driving conviction filed a grievance in September reporting he had more than 100 bites.

A pest control contractor believes the problem might soon be under control, Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Shari Ireton said. The company sprayed chemicals Jan. 24 and is scheduled to return later this week for another inspection.

“We certainly hope they will be gone,” Ireton said.

The county has spent several thousand dollars so far trying to eliminate the bug problem, but the rice grain-sized pests are resilient parasites that can go months without a meal. They have a knack for hiding in mattress seams, box springs, bed frames and dressers.

It often can take multiple treatments to get rid of them, Ireton said. Pest control contractors have visited the jail six times in recent months.

At the height of the infestation, trustees reported seeing bugs crawling on books and in their bedding. They wore extra clothes at night to limit the areas where they might get bitten.

During its most recent visit to the jail, the pest control contractor reported finding 27 dead bed bugs. The inspection revealed that the baby bed bugs had not had “blood mates,” according to jail records.

Pest control workers believe that bed bug eggs left by adults that died were still hatching inside the walls. They injected an insecticide into the wall in hopes of eliminating any remaining viable eggs.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446; stevick@heraldnet.com.

More in Local News

Local police join thousands honoring slain Canadian officer

Abbotsford Const. John Davidson was killed Nov. 6 in a shootout with a suspected car thief.

Herald photos of the week

A weekly collection of The Herald’s best images by staff photographers and… Continue reading

No easy exit from Smokey Point shopping complex

There’s just no easy exit on this one. A reader called in… Continue reading

Lynnwood, Marysville, Sultan consider ban on safe injection sites

If approved, they would join Lake Stevens and Snohomish County, which have temporary bans.

City Council OKs initial funding for Smith Avenue parking lot

The site of the former Smith Street Mill is being developed in anticipation of light rail.

Single fingerprint on robbery note leads to arrest

The holdup occurred at a U.S. Bank branch in Lynnwood in June.

Two windsurfers rescued from Port Susan near Kayak Point

The men had failed to return to shore during Sunday’s windstorm.

Yes to turn signal — eventually

Adding a right-turn signal at 112th St. and 7th Ave. is turning out to be a bit more complicated.

Mill Creek councilman no longer lives in city, panel finds

The Canvassing Board determined Sean Kelly is not eligible to vote there.

Most Read