There are a few emissaries at U.N. headquarters that won't be able to count on diplomatic immunity: bedbugs.
Bed bug sniffing dogs twice this month found evidence of the insects in furniture in two U.N. buildings, and the furniture was moved to unoccupied areas of the complex to be fumigated, Martin Nesirky, spokesman for the Secretary-General, said Wednesday.
Infestations by the tiny reddish-brown critters have become increasingly common in New York City over the past three years, with an outbreaks reported in a Times Square movie theater, stores, luxury apartment buildings and even the office of U.S. radio show host Howard Stern of Sirius XM Radio.
While New York City has been called the epicenter of the outbreak, infestations have been reported in hotels and apartment buildings nationwide.
Specialists have been mystified by the resurgence of the wingless bugs that feed off human and animal blood, their bites often leaving red welts.
Experts say that infestations of this scale have not been seen since World War II and believe that increased global travel and the outlawing of certain chemicals such as the dangerously toxic DDT, once used to treat bedbugs, could be contributing to the resurgence.
At the U.N., no staff or other occupants of the complex overlooking the East River have reported bites, Nesirky said. He also said that the bed-bug sniffing dogs are unable to distinguish between insects that are alive or dead.
Nesirky said that a bed bug infestation reported last fall at the Albano building, a midtown Manhattan building on East 46th St. where the U.N. is housing some offices during a major renovation, was cleared up by a several rounds of fumigation. An insect discovered at the site after fumigation in May was deemed not to be a bed bug but a clover mite, which is not harmful to furniture or humans, he said.
"We continue to follow the expert advice of our exterminator specialist making further tests with the bed-bug sniffing dog to more fully assess and manage the problem," Nesirky said.