A Few Comments About Peterborough

by jessinchicago on October 31, 2006 · 1 comment

in activism, bed bugs, england, government, information and help, united kingdom

As I read through the Peterborough bed bugs story, I found my concern for the general public begin to mount. There is a definite sense of urgency in the words of Mr. Barford, the Pest Control Operator interviewed in the article, unlike anything I’ve seen in the news before. I’m grateful for his honesty, but I am also fearful, as I know he is correct when he says “[Bedbugs] can easily be transmitted, and in today’s world people are moving about and travelling much more. Bed bugs can easily be picked up. People may bring them back from a holiday, or they may sleep somewhere with an infestation and bring it into their own home.” I think Mr. Barford is dead on here, people, and I’m deeply concerned.

I’m wondering how many people who have infestations are inadvertently infesting others every day? I mean, one doesn’t really even have to SLEEP in an infested place, so much as simply visit and sit on an infested couch, pick up a bedbug, and go home to sit on his own couch. And what about public transportation? How many infested people take trains and buses to work every day? And how many of those people have physical contact with others? How many bags are set on the floor, next to other bags? What, then, about work? School? What exactly are the limits of our social responsibility, as people with bedbug infestations?

It’s almost as if, in order to avoid spreading bedbug infestations, one is faced with the real possibility of having to quarantine himself and his or her family for the entire duration of extermination. This would mean people missing work and children missing school for long periods of time, as we are well aware that an infestation cannot be eliminated in two weeks; many times not even in a month. And what if an infested person makes the decision, as many of us have, to go to work or school despite the possibility of transmission? What are the limits of our responsibility if our places of work become infested? Or when the homes of our colleagues become infested?

I smell lawsuits, people. Lots of them. I smell a serious problem for our country, economically speaking. These issues need to be addressed. Legislation needs to be passed. We need help from our government, and quickly.

It’s my hope that the goverment will step in with a pesticide that eliminates bedbug infestations quickly- meaning within days; not weeks and months. This is really the only way I see an end to the bedbug epidemic all over the world. And rules need to be made- quickly- to set proper extermination standards for all towns, cities, states and our country. Health departments, where are you?


1 nobugsonme October 31, 2006 at 4:00 am

I hear you, Jess.

One thought I have is that lawsuits are not going to work. Jack sues Jane because he caught bedbugs from her? If so, someone else will sue Jack,  because he will pass them along. Who will Jane sue? Do I have to find someone to pin this on, in order to recoup my losses? It is a never-ending cycle.

And nobody REALLY knows where they caught this. (You think you know, but you don’t ever really know for sure.) Jack can catch it on the subway, so how can his lawyer prove his neighbor Jane gave it to him, even if he has it? It’s an epidemic and so the possibility exists that each person got it on their own.

Besides, this is a parasite anyone can catch. You do not have to do anything to get it. If someone gives you TB because they don’t take their TB meds, you can’t sue them. We may see a few such lawsuits about bedbugs, but they can’t stand up in court.

And I’ve seen estimates that between 1/3 and 1/2 of people don’t feel bed bug bites. (I don’t know if those numbers are right, but of the people I know who’ve been exposed, they seem plausible). So if even 1/3 of people don’t know they have them until they SEE one, which in my opinion means they have a lot of them and have had for some time, then they must be spreading them around. Those of us who are sensitive to bedbugs usually find out more quickly, and should be careful as soon as we know we have them. But what of those who never realize it until they’re swarming? They can’t help but spread them, ’cause they don’t know, until its too late.

Even lawsuits about responsibility for extermination are not going to work, I think. For the same reasons: in an epidemic, it can’t be proven that someone caught this from even the most obvious source.

Did I get my bed bugs from the new sofa, or the new area rug, on the subway, from the seat I sat on in a diner, in the library at a desk, from a clothes store changing room at the mall, from the moving guy’s blankets, or from the apartment I moved into?

Who do I sue?

Forgive me if I sound like flaky-New-Age-meets-screaming-lefty-socialist, but in the end, people are going to have to see we’re all part of a web, and we need to eradicate the bugs for all our sakes, because the each-man-for-himself / capitalist / survival of the fittest model does not work here.

Sure the fittest (= richest and most powerful) can afford to deal with their bedbugs better than the rest of us.

But if the weakest keep getting them, the problem will just keep coming back for the fittest too.

Instead, they have to help their neighbors. This could be the thing that makes people work together.

Or else a whole lotta rich folks are gonna be itching forever.

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