The dreaded bed bugs (mites) that have infested New York City have spread to the United Nations landmark headquarters building, reports Foreign Policy.
Over the weekend, a team of trained hounds sniffed out a group of the pests -- known properly as Cimex Lectularius -- that had slipped past security at the U.N. and embedded themselves in a set of vintage mid-century wood and naugahyde conference room chairs beneath the U.N. library.
U.N. officials announced the operation late Tuesday to reporters at the U.N. press section, which is located two floors above the scene of the insect discovery. They assured staff and reporters that the bug invasion had been repelled and that no one had suffered a rash, bite, or any other indignity.
There were bed bugs, but they didn't bite us, Werner Schmidt, the spokesman for Capital Master Plan, which is overseeing the 1.9 billion USD renovation of the U.N. headquarters complex. “The chairs are gone and now the bed bugs are gone. I can assure you that nobody, to the best of my knowledge, has ever complained about getting bitten on those chairs.
The bed bug troubles come as the city is battling the worst infestation of the blood-sucking parasite in decades. The pests are showing up at restaurants, hotels, movie theaters, and schools. In comparison, the U.N. infestation has been a relatively modest one, but it has stirred anxiety among members of the U.N. diplomatic community.
The Waldorf Astoria hotel -- the official residence of the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Susan E. Rice and the nerve center of U.S. diplomatic activities during the annual U.N. General Assembly -- was sued by a Florida woman who claimed her daughter was bitten by bed bugs at the hotel. The Waldorf Astoria claims it conducted an examination of the room and found no evidence of bed bugs.
A spokesman for Rice, Mark Kornblau, said that no bed bugs have been found in the ambassador's penthouse residence. So far we're in the clear in terms of the ambassador's residence, but if the critters keep surfacing in U.N. buildings, we may have to consider some biting sanctions.
The U.S. State Department, which organized scores of meetings between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and foreign dignitaries, also assured that there were no diplomatic incidents involving the pests. We wrestled with a number of intractable problems in New York this year, from Middle East peace, Afghanistan and Sudan to climate change, cook-stoves and food insecurity, said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. Fortunately, we did not have to add beg bugs to the list. We were alert for deep undercover agents, but did not discover any that I'm aware of.
For years, the U.N. headquarters has struggled to contain the building's mouse population. The small rodents could be seen scurrying across the building's storied corridors, depositing droppings on office desks or poking their noses out from behind the plants in the U.N. cafeteria. But the bed bugs have turned up as hundreds of constructions workers moved into the building and thousands of U.N. workers moved off campus to neighborhood buildings.
Bed bug infestations have been found in many public and commercial buildings throughout New York City, indicating a worsening problem, said Andrew Nye, the chief of the U.N.'s Facilities Management Service, which is responsible for combating the pests. On Oct. 15, 2010, bed bugs have also been found in furniture which came from the 19th and 20th floors of the Secretariat building and on Oct. 22, 2010, in furniture in the 1B area of the Library building. This furniture has been moved to a part of the building not occupied by staff to facilitate fumigation.