INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -- The Independence School District is asking the parents of students at Thomas Hart Benton Elementary School to inspect backpacks, lunch bags, and jackets for bedbugs.

A bedbug was found at the school, and students and staff have reported seeing them. So, the school district officials sent home a letter to parents with advice on how to try to prevent bed bugs from making their way into their homes.

School staff are asking parents to limit the number of items their child brings home from school. They also want them to inspect those items when they arrive at home.

School officials said they hired a pest control company to inspect the school and that they did not find any bedbugs. They believe a student or multiple students may have brought bedbugs on their clothing.

That something that isn’t surprising to Rene Ferguson, who is a grandmother.

“They have coats and hats and of course they like to share things,” she said.

She knows firsthand what it is like to deal with bedbugs. She said they spread quickly in an apartment complex she use to live in.

“When it bites you, it actually feels like little teeth biting you,” she said. “It itches 10 times more than a mosquito bite. It gets really red and bumps up.”

Midwest Bed Bug Services Operation Manager Jody Dillon said early detection is key. Look for clusters of bites, or dark droppings or markings on sheets and mattresses.

“As long as you are breathing and you have blood in you, you qualify to get bedbugs,” Dillon said. “I tell people it’s like catching a cold. You can get it sitting down in a restaurant after someone who had them.”

Their company specializes in inspecting for bedbug infestations and treating bedbugs. They use canines to detect them in houses, nursing homes, hospitals, schools, and businesses.

“Bedbugs have a unique scent to them,” Dillon said. “Just like training a drug dog, you train them the same way.”

He said the key to getting rid of bed bugs is heat.

“The thing that is scientifically proven to work for all stages of bed begs is heat,” he explained. “At 122 degrees, bedbugs and their eggs will die.”

Concerned parents can take steps at home.

“Backpacks, clothes,” Dillon reiterated. “Anything that can go in the dryer. Utilize your dryer. That will kill bedbugs also.”

If families do spot signs of an infestation, quickly contact a professional pest control company.

School leaders recommend keeping school items like backpacks, books, and jackets in a single area of the home that is separate from the sleeping area. You can also isolate school items in a sealed plastic container.

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