Fredericton women's shelter battles bedbug infestation
Women in Transition House forced to turn people away at busiest time of year
A women's shelter in Fredericton has had to turn about a dozen new clients away due to a bedbug infestation.
The timing couldn't be worse for the Women in Transition House, said executive assistant Meaghan Comeau.
"It's a bad time of year for us, with Christmas coming," she said, noting it is typically one of the busiest times of the year for women and children seeking refuge from abusive situations.
"We want to help people, that's what we're here for," said Comeau.
But the shelter could soon be turning to the community for help to cover the estimated $10,000 it will cost to get rid of the bugs, plus the cost of replacing furniture that has had to be thrown out.
"We're getting through it. It's getting there," said Comeau.
This is the second bout of bedbugs the Women in Transition House has had this year.
The bugs first appeared in February, and staff thought they had them beat after implementing a thorough treatment process and new set of protocols.
But the tiny creatures, which can lie dormant for up to 18 months, were discovered again in late October.
Comeau says new mattresses were encased in bedbug covers after the first infestation, so they can be salvaged.
But almost all of the other furniture has been sent to the dump because it has crevices the bugs could hide in.
A pest control company is currently treating the top floor of the shelter, using spray and heat generators.
"It takes the temperature up to 130 degrees, and we leave it there for quite a few hours, and it literally cooks the bedbug and the egg as well," said Greg Ricker, of Excel Pest Control.
It could be weeks before the shelter is able to once again take in 19 families, officials said.
Meanwhile, staff are trying to help anyone they have to turn away find other accommodations.