Nunatsiaq Online
NEWS: Iqaluit October 14, 2016 - 7:00 am

Bedbug infestation closes offices, apartment complex in Nunavut capital

Grinnell Place closed for a week to let exterminators do their work

STEVE DUCHARME
The rumours are true. Previously tight-lipped GN officials have admitted that Grinnell Place, home to a Department of Family Services office and numerous apartments, is infested with bedbugs. The owner of the building, Northview Apartment REIT, isn't saying anything right now. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
The rumours are true. Previously tight-lipped GN officials have admitted that Grinnell Place, home to a Department of Family Services office and numerous apartments, is infested with bedbugs. The owner of the building, Northview Apartment REIT, isn't saying anything right now. (PHOTO BY STEVE DUCHARME)
Tiny but persistent: bedbug bites, while itchy and annoying, are not particularly dangerous. The problem is that once bedbugs occupy a space or building, they are very difficult to get rid of. (FILE PHOTO)
Tiny but persistent: bedbug bites, while itchy and annoying, are not particularly dangerous. The problem is that once bedbugs occupy a space or building, they are very difficult to get rid of. (FILE PHOTO)

If you’re wondering why Nunavut’s Department of Family Services office in Iqaluit’s Grinnell Place apartment complex has been closed for the past week, there’s a good explanation: bedbugs, nasty, fast-spreading vermin, whose bloodsucking bites cause itchy welts.

Kris Mullaly, spokesperson for Nunavut’s Department of Community and Government Services department, confirmed the bedbug rumour is true Oct. 13.

The office, on the bottom floor of Grinnell Place—the olive green three-story walk-up on Iqaluit’s main street—has been closed since the weekend of Oct. 8 and is now expected to re-open Oct. 17 after several delays.

But that planned re-opening will depend on the most recent round of extermination, which requires a 24-hour wait period before the building can be inspected, the GN says.

The Government of Nunavut will provide an update in the coming days if more cleaning is required.

So far, exterminators have conducted three cleanings in Grinnell Place after signs of bedbugs persisted, the CGS said.

Northview Apartment REIT, which owns the Grinnell Place building, was unable to answer questions when contacted Oct. 13.

Mullaly said the department is not aware of any other bedbug infestations in the area.

Nunavut’s Family Services department, which occupies an office in the building, has been closed since the bedbugs were discovered.

Not even a quarter of an inch long, bedbugs are small—about the size of a kernel of rice.

But they can cause itchy red welts, blisters and rashes where they bite into the skin with their two hollow feeding tubes.

One tube injects saliva that makes the victim’s blood thinner and numbs the skin. With the other tube, the bedbug sucks out blood, usually for about five minutes.

After feeding, they turn dark red and become bloated.

Bedbugs only need to eat every five to 10 days and they can live for up to a year, lurking in the folds of mattresses, bed sheets and other warm, dark places, only surfacing occasionally to feed.

Eggs are whitish, pear-shaped and about the size of a pinhead. Clusters of 10 to 50 eggs can be found in cracks and crevices.

To get rid of bedbugs, you can freeze your bedclothes outside, cook them in a dryer at high heat or poison them with pesticide—and everything affected must be thoroughly cleaned.

The GN said anyone who needs help from the Department of Family Services while the office is closed can call the children and family dispatch line at 867-979-5650.

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