Bed bugs close 2 units of the Bathurst hospital
Chaleur Regional Hospital hired specially-trained dogs to search for bed bugs
The Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst was forced to close two wings to visitors because of an outbreak of bed bugs late last week.
Five different locations were found to have been affected by bed bugs, including a family room, a washroom, a shower and two patient rooms.
Stephane Legacy, the chief operating officer for the Acadie-Bathurst region of the Vitalité Health Network, said visitation had to be suspended in the general medicine and pediatrics units.
The problem started when a patient was admitted to the northern hospital on July 12 and was carrying the bed bugs.
Legacy says staff immediately moved all the patients in the four-bed room and two were put in isolation.
Hospital staff were told to arrive in street clothes, uniforms were laundered, some linens were destroyed and visitations cancelled. But more was needed.
"We've called in special dogs that are trained to find bed bugs. Those two dogs are from Halifax," Legacy said.
Dotty was one of those dogs that were called to Bathurst to uncover the bed bugs.
Brian Barton, the owner of Bed Bug Detectives, said his dogs are trained to smell the bed bug pheromones.
"It is basically a double-check system, where I have one dog that can check the other dog’s work just to make sure they are both saying the same thing," he said.
Legacy said he thinks the Bathurst hospital is in the clear and visitors are now allowed back on those wards.
The hospital estimates it will have cost them around $10,000 by the time the job is finished.
Bed bugs are not considered a health risk and the Bathurst hospital is far from the first hospital to get them.
In 2010, St. Joseph's Hospital in Saint John was also forced to fight an infestation of bed bugs.
Meanwhile, officials at the Hotel-Dieu Grace hospital in Windsor, Ont., deals with patients arriving two to three times a week with bed bug bites. And Vancouver and Toronto rank in the top 10 cities that are most infested with bed bugs.
Freezing, steaming and poisoning the bugs are the most common treatments for bed bugs, but it can take weeks and months to eradicate them entirely.