Nova Scotia

Halifax library closed twice in last week after bed bug sightings

The bed bugs were found on a piece of furniture in the library and on inbound materials at Halifax North Memorial Public Library.

Bed bugs found on piece of library furniture and on inbound materials at Halifax North Memorial

Halifax North Memorial Public Library has been closed twice in the last week because of bed bugs found in the building. (CBC)

Halifax North Memorial Public Library has closed twice in the last week after staff discovered bed bugs on a piece of library furniture and on CDs and DVDs that had been returned.

The Gottingen Street library was closed for spraying last week and again on Thursday morning.

"This is a very rare occurrence for the library but any public space is vulnerable to these types of pests," Terry Gallagher, facilities director at Halifax Public Libraries, told CBC's Maritime Noon. "They hitchhike very easily on people or other things."

'Rigorous protocol' for pests

Gallagher said the library has since reopened and professionals found no sign of any bed bugs.

"We've identified that this is not a facility issue, these are things coming to us," he said.

Gallagher said they have a "very rigorous protocol" when it comes to dealing with insects or pests. He said all staff are trained at detecting various pests and recognizing the signs.

The facilities director at Halifax Public Libraries says all staff are trained at detecting various pests and recognizing the signs. (CBC)

If an insect is found, Gallagher said the protocol is to trap it using clear tape. It's then sent away to pest control professionals, and if it's a bed bug, the library is then closed and sprayed.

"We're very vigilant on examining materials that come into the library," he said. "We really care. We want to make sure the community is coming in and visiting the library."

Dave Holland, owner of Holland's Pest Control Services in Halifax, told Maritime Noon it's not uncommon for bed bugs to pop up in public places.

"Any place where there's more people coming or going you have a higher risk of getting bed bugs. So yes, you can pick them up at a mall, you can pick them up on a bus, you can pick them up just about anywhere," he said.

A bed bug is displayed at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History in Washington. (Carolyn Kaster/The Associated Press)

Holland said bed bugs, which are nocturnal, typically bite at night. Once they feed, he said, they tend to hide somewhere "relatively close to their meal" and rest — and do so in places like book bindings.

He said if they aren't spotted early on and a pregnant female gets into the picture, it could lead to a public outbreak.

"Sometimes people don't realize they have those bed bugs," he said. "About 30 per cent of the population has no effect from a bug bite, so they're the ultimate nemesis when it comes to bugs."

With files from Maritime Noon