Palo Alto library shut down after bed bugs detected

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KTVU) -- Officials in Palo Alto were forced to close the Mitchell Park Library for three days starting Thursday after bed bugs were found in the chairs there.

As a result, library patron Suzi Jackson wasted no time returning her library books. In fact, she couldn't unload them fast enough.

"My husband looked through all the books, then stacked everything up and then I brought them back here just in case. My scalp has been itchy all day thinking about it," said Jackson.

It was just yesterday, that a patron discovered the bed bugs, on the surface of two chairs. And so the newly opened Mitchell Park Library is now closed while pest control experts assess the situation.

"We don't know how they got there, how long they've been there. We do know it was a limited area that was cordoned off to the public. It was just on two chairs," says Palo Alto spokesperson Claudia Keith.

The chairs have been removed and destroyed. Palo Alto officials say they'll keep the library closed for at least three days to ensure the bugs are completely eradicated.

They also plan to have special dogs inspect the city's other libraries, sniffing for bugs.

Steve Hebert of SWAT Pest Control is not handling this case, but says he doubts there's cause for concern.

"The chance of you getting a bed bug by coming here and reading a book really it's not very good. You have more of a chance of getting in an auto accident or tripping on a sidewalk," said Hebert.

Anyplace people gather and sit is at risk for the critters, though he says it's highly unlikely the bed bugs have spread beyond an isolated area.

"When you start getting bed bugs in all the chairs and all the places, then you've got transfer. In this case no, two locations, that would be normal," he says.

City officials offer this advice: if you're worried bed bugs, put your books in a ziplock bag and bring them back.

There's a book drop slot and a small pop-up library operating around back. They say they're handling this as best they can.

"It's my understanding we've never had bed bugs in any of our libraries previously," said Keith.

City officials expect to reopen the library sometime Sunday. They plan to bring the bug sniffing dogs through all the other libraries next week as a precaution.

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