It’s funny. I was aware that long-haul truckers refer to themselves as bedbuggers, presumably because they have beds in their rigs.
Now, ironically, lorry (truck) drivers in Northern Ireland are suffering from a bedbug problem, according to this article in the Belfast Telegraph Wednesday. They believe the bedbugs infested their trucks while they were on P&O line ferries crossing the Irish Sea:
The news first came to light after a Portadown haulier contacted the Stephen Nolan Show to complain about a problem he claimed originated on a P&O [ferry] crossing.
The ferry company, however, yesterday defended its actions, saying the problem was nipped in the bud.
“I started to scratch and I couldn’t stop. My God, the bites were itchy,” the lorry driver said.
“Then some of the boys started to find insects in their lorries – they’re wee flat bronze coloured things with a black spot and they only come out when it’s dark.
“Everyone has been talking about it for some time now. A friend of mine was eaten alive after his lorry was swarmed with them.”
The 29-year-old, who asked not to be named, said he believed he caught the bugs on a P&O crossing between Larne and Cairnryan.
“I make that journey up to six times each week. In July, P&O said there was a ‘small problem’, so the commercial drivers lounge was closed – and completely refurbished,” he said.
So P&O treated some kind of bug problem and claimed it was “nipped in the bud.” Meanwhile, one driver claimed he had had to have his lorry fumigated three times, at 500 pounds a pop (about $900 US). Since he pays this expense, it is taking a huge cut of his wages.
A spokesperson for P&O Ferries yesterday said there was a “possible pest control issue” on the Larne-Cairnyran route at the end of July.
“This area was immediately closed and treated and we then took the added precaution of completely refitting all fittings and furnishings in the Commercial Drivers Lounge. This area was subsequently reopened to commercial drivers in late August.”
He added that there had been an inspection on Monday.
“Once again both external experts, Rentokill Initial and Environmental Health Officials from Larne Borough Council, gave the European Highlander and the European Causeway vessels a complete clean bill of health,” he said.
Two things are interesting here: one, this illustrates the wide-ranging effect of an infestation. If bugs on the P&O ferries are indeed getting into lorries (or possibly into lorry driver’s coats and bags?) then they are going wherever those drivers go, including pubs, restaurants, and homes. Maybe even shops their freight is destined for.
Another point is that P&O carries travelers on foot and with cars, as well as frieght and drivers. They connect rail and bus lines in Scotland and Northern Ireland. So people who’ve been in trains or cars can presumably carry the bugs too.
What many readers might find to be an innocuous story about people in one line of work getting a raw deal is actually a story about how bedbugs travel. This story is about P&O’s Scotland to Northern Ireland line, but the trains connect with trains and buses all over those countries; P&O also runs ferries to the Continent. Travelers visit hotels, hostels and homes.
Th public health authorities in Larne, and the Rentokill Pest Control may as yet not have extensive experience with bedbugs, but we here at Bedbugger can tell them it is not always easy to spot bedbugs in their earlier stages of development. And even if you eradicate them, they can come back, swiftly.
What do Northern Irish lorry drivers and Ralph Lauren’s New York design office employees have in common? Bed bugs at work. And you know that long after the office / trucks are clean, those monsters are spreading around the homes of the employees. And, if they’re not super careful, the homes of everyone they know. And their neighbors.
Are you starting to get worried about these lorry drivers and their problem now? I sure am.