Ryerson University investigating after bedbugs found in classroom

Click to play video: 'Student journalists discover bed bugs in Ryerson University classroom'
Student journalists discover bed bugs in Ryerson University classroom
WATCH ABOVE: Students have been reporting bed bugs for months in classroom 205 at Ryerson University’s Victoria Building, but after a school investigation turned up zero insects, the school’s student newspaper took it upon themselves to uncover the truth. Kamil Karamali reports – Mar 13, 2018

A downtown Toronto university says it is investigating reports of possible bedbugs in one of its classrooms.

Ryerson University said it is assessing the room and notes that students have been helpful in bringing their concerns forward.

The university’s assessment comes after The Eyeopener, a student newspaper, published a report of insects found inside tables in classroom 205 in the Victoria building.

School officials confirmed to Global News, that as of Tuesday, the classroom has been closed.

Stefanie Phillips, who co-wrote the piece with fellow student Jacob Dube, told Global News Radio 640 Toronto on Tuesday that she was bitten several times on her right hand.

LISTEN: Stefanie Phillips joins Kelly Cutrara on 640 Toronto

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After she swatted the bugs away, Phillips said she noticed many more and decided to put out a call out on social media to see if any other students had seen the bugs.

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She said the response she received was overwhelming. A number of students came forward to say they noticed the bugs in that particular classroom.

Dube said students have been reporting possible bedbug sightings in that specific classroom since December.

But Phillips said Ryerson Facilities Management told her the incidents were investigated and nothing was found. She said they told her staff checked the classroom as recently as Friday.

“What they told us is that they do visible inspections,” she said. “They weren’t able to explain exactly what else those investigations entail, other than at one point a canine unit was brought into the room to sniff out bugs, and [inspectors] didn’t find anything.”

On Monday evening, Dube said he and several other student reporters decided to investigate for themselves and found several insects inside holes in large tables in the classroom.

Dube said the newspaper sent photographs of the insects to five exterminators, who all said the insects were bedbugs.

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Bedbugs are difficult to deal with because of how hard they can be to spot and how quickly they can spread, said Neetu Gogna, office manager at Pestend Pest Control, one of the companies that identified the insects to Dube as bedbugs.

“They can easily migrate from one place to another place on the human body, clothes, shoes, purses,” she said. “Even one or two bedbugs … can spread very easily.”

WATCH: Several student journalists at Ryerson University took matters into their own hands by finding and capturing bed bugs after the school told them the insects weren’t an issue. Kamil Karamali reports. 
Click to play video: 'Ryerson University students uncover bed bugs in classroom'
Ryerson University students uncover bed bugs in classroom

Bedbugs can be hard to find because they can easily hide in very small cracks, Gogna said. Adults are usually dark brown or red, while newborns who haven’t fed yet are almost transparent.

Heat can kill bedbugs, which is why Gogna said anyone who fears they may have come into contact with the insects should wash and dry their clothes or other belongings in high heat.

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Whether or not the insects at Ryerson turn out to be bedbugs, Gogna said everyone should be careful, and regularly do visual checks on their beds and clothing.

“They are very common, especially in downtown Toronto.”

With files from Kerri Breen and The Canadian Press

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