Mystery bugs plague McKay Elementary students

BEAVERTON, Ore. (KOIN) — Three weeks after McKay Elementary School students reported being bitten by bugs that caused rashes, the school district has not been able to identify the bugs or stop the problem.

The bugs were collected and sent to Oregon State University for identification and a solution.

The first reports of the bugs biting students came from two first-grade classes. The school moved the first-graders out of their basement classroom and upstairs into the gym.

Bug specimens were also taken in second- and third-grade classes.

“A number of youngsters in each of the classrooms apparently have had some bites,” said Maureen Wheeler with the Beaverton School District.

McKay Elementary officials sent a note home with students to notify parents of their efforts to rid the school of the bugs over the past three weeks. — but with no success.

“We’ve had district staff out from our maintenance department to thoroughly clean carpets, vacuuming and shampooing, then we’ve also had three pest control companies out,” Wheeler told KOIN 6 News. “They’ve been checking all the classrooms.”

Anching Igi is a parent of a student at McKay Elementary in Beaverton who is worried about the mystery bugs plaguing the school for weeks, March 20, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Anching Igi is a parent of a student at McKay Elementary in Beaverton who is worried about the mystery bugs plaguing the school for weeks, March 20, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Still, some parents said they’re uneasy.

Anan Carter is worried about her son. “He might get a reaction from being bit.

Another parent, Anching Igi, said her daughter “is allergic to dog fleas and any bugs.”

Wheeler said she understands their concerns.

“Our students being unable to focus and their itching and not comfortable, we’re concerned.”

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This is the text of the letter sent by McKay Elementary Principal Megan Clifford to parents:

March 20, 2014

Dear Parents and Guardians,

I wanted to let you know about an unusual situation we are working with at McKay. Some students have been reporting they have bites and are “itchy” for the past few weeks in two of the 1st grade classrooms. At first, we thought it was perhaps just bites from playing outside or bites they got outside of school. However, two 1st grade teachers noticed there seemed to be more students than we might expect scratching and showing some skin irritation.

Several pest companies examined the 1st grade classrooms rooms, and the first two could not identify any biting insects. The third company found evidence of specimen they think might be a mite of some kind, however were unable to positively identify it. The specimen has been sent to OSU for identification. The two impacted 1st grade classrooms were treated on 3/14/14 with an organic bug spray. When we had suspicions some additional rooms might have the same issue, they were examined to see if the same specimen was present. Of those rooms, a second grade and a third grade classroom turned up the same specimen. Those two rooms were treated on 3/18/14. Although we have not had any evidence there are additional rooms that have this same specimen in it, we took a precautionary measure by placing glue traps in any remaining classrooms the company had not checked. It is safe to occupy the treated rooms after the spray dries, which takes 4 hours. Treatments have taken place after school and families in those classrooms were notified. Additionally, a notice was placed on the front door and classrooms doors 24 hours in advance of the treatments to alert anyone entering our school.

The pest control company and our staff will continue to monitor this situation to see if any further steps need to be taken. I will keep you informed as we find out more information.

Sincerely,
Megan Clifford

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