Check your chair for a new visitor at work

A bed bug is seen on office chair upholstery in this KATU Problem Solver report. »Play Video
A bed bug is seen on office chair upholstery in this KATU Problem Solver report.

PORTLAND, Ore. – As bed bugs scare away tourists to New York City, you may want to check your chair for a new kind of visitor at work right here in the Pacific Northwest.

That's right. Bed bugs are now showing up inside office buildings in Portland. And often, it's a dog named April to the rescue.

In a Southeast Portland office, the work day for April – the bed-bug sniffing dog – is almost over.

"Where is it? Where is it?" asks April's handler as the dog searches for these hitch-hiking, blood-sucking bugs. "There you go, there you go. That's a good girl."

It's another successful find under the guidance of handler Eckhard Mueller of Sprague.

"The advantage with April is more accuracy and [bugs can be found] faster," Mueller tells us. April isn't an anomaly. In March we profiled another Northwest bed-bug sniffing dog, Molly in Edmonds, Wash.

Bed bugs are prime for being sniffed out, in that they give off a smell that makes them easy to track – into the crevices of office couches or chairs, or along baseboards in the carpet.

Mueller says bed bugs sneak into offices on shoes, purses, backpacks. Then lay in wait for the bite, fattening up on your blood. Then they hide out until it's time to feed again.

"This is a live bed bug here on my arm," Mueller points out to our cameras in the middle of this extrication job. "It's not going to bite me.
It's not hungry. It already had a blood meal."

We're told it's not going to be hungry again for another three to five days to a week.

But that bug on Mueller's arm is not alone. Up the cubicle wall comes another bed bug, a growing site at Portland-area offices.

On KATU viewer says her husband saw a bed bug at the engineering building at Portland State University.

"He was really upset when he got home," she said. "He said, 'You wont believe what happened.'"

PSU officials say they found just one bed bug in the building, and they are still monitoring for new sightings.

"There's likely a lot of folks in and out of the buildings," said Robyn Pierce at PSU. "[It's] something we just need to be on the look out for, as it seems to be an escalating issue."

Bed bugs usually like beds better than desks and chairs, but April can track them down just about anywhere.

"She loves it," Mueller said. "I have to say she loves it."

The experts say that if you do see a bed bug at your work you should catch it so someone can confirm it's really a bed bug. If it's just one, then the office could get by with just monitoring for more. If there are more, those bugs can be treated with heat, steam, indoor sprays or other solutions – like one bed-bug sniffing dog.