The third floor of the University of Utah library is closed until further notice, as pest control deals with a bed bug infestation.
"We don't know where they came from or how they got into the building, but it's not atypical," said interim communications director for the university, Valoree Dowell. "The third floor is closed in an abundance of caution just because we want to make sure that they're going to get rid of all of them."
A student on Tuesday spotted the blood-sucking insects and reported the sighting to security.
On Thursday, a gate kept students from walking up the stairs to the third floor of the J. Willard Marriott building, and the elevator no longer stopped at that level.
"Well, I think that's why I have a rash probably on the bottom of my back for like the last week," said creeped-out sophomore Josh Klingensmith, who suddenly began to realize why he was itchy. "Like, little bug bites and stuff."
Neil Swan read a sign about the bed bugs posted on a wall, before taking a seat on the second floor to study for midterms and hang out with a friend.
"Usually, I spend a couple hours up there each day," Swan said. "You kind of don't want to hear there's bed bugs in the chair you're sitting in."
Student Malynne Cottam has been seeing the floor slowly closed off more over the past two days. But she isn't too concerned about the pests.
"I lived on campus, and we had them in one of the houses I lived in," Cottam said. "It's annoying, but I guess they know what they're doing and can take care of it."
Bed bug bites can cause rashes and, rarely, allergic reactions. The presence of the insects doesn't necessarily indicate the place is unclean. They are often found in highly populated places where people sit or sleep. The university library averages 1.8 million entrances a year.
"Pests like bed bugs are not uncommon in places where humans congregate. So it's not uncommon to find them in public facilities," Dowell said.
Many students are not surprised, considering the atmosphere of the library.
"It's pretty laid back. People, you know, they take off their shoes. They kick back and relax," Swan said. "People do sleep a lot."
Dowell said pest control will determine what method of removing the bugs is best, but a common process is to use heat, getting the furniture up to 140 degrees to kill the pests.
"It's very, very isolated," Dowell said of the infestation in one or two areas of the third floor. "It isn't a public health risk; it's a nuisance."
University officials are not sure when pest control will be finished. They hope to reopen the floor in a couple days.
"There are ample places in the library for [students and guests] to gather still," Dowell said. "And if there are any materials on that floor that they need, they can get them through the reserve desk."
By Christine McCarthy
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)