BY: Godwin Deku |OPINION |
Subjecting bed bugs to three and half months of starvation and spraying with insecticides were not enough to subdue this resilient pest in the Ghanaian Senior High Schools.
Many Ghanaians thought that bed bugs might have completely disappeared from SHS dormitories due to the several months of lockdown of all Schools and the mass disinfestation following the outbreak of COVID-19.
Many Private Pest Control Operators (PPCO) felt threatened as their services may no longer be needed.
On the contrary, few individuals within the cycle of Medical Entomology knew bed bugs can withstand starvation for long and wait patiently for students to come.
During my Mphil studies on bed bugs at the University of Cape Coast, I observed in the laboratory that, freshly emerged ‘baby’ bed bugs (first stage nymphs) can survive for over one month without feeding. Several studies in the laboratory outside Ghana have also shown that bed bugs can withstand starvation for over 3 months. A publication by the World Health Organization revealed that, bed bugs can survive over a year without feeding.
However, field evidences on bed bugs tolerance to starvation are rare and our understanding on whether bed bugs are vulnerable to insecticides during starvation regimes has not been clearly justified.
On Monday, June 22, 2020, I visited two SHSs in the Volta Region where spraying was done during the lockdown. The visit was done earlier before the arrival of students, and inspections were conducted in 3 and 1 room respectively from the two schools.
Amazingly, Nymph bed bugs (first and fourth stage) were found present in the dormitories of the two schools visited.
This is a clear indication of mass bed bug control failure in the schools. As the finding from this inspection suggest major implications for re-emergence of the pest in the Schools and bed bugs likely to become a worry and major biting nuisance to students again despite, the effort to eradicate them.
I will like to recommend frequent inspections few days after control programmes to warrant further actions for appropriate decision and management of the insect.
Source: Godwin Deku
Medical Entomologist (Final year Mphil (Entomology) Candidate-University of Cape Coast)
-Health Tutor-Accra School of Hygiene
-Environmental Health Practitioner