I keep saying that my own gut feeling is that there may be as many as 20 times as many infestations in NYC as are reported to 311. (Approx 4600 reported in NYC to 311 in a one year period ending last summer; no doubt the numbers are growing monthly.) I realize my gut is entirely unscientific.
Interestingly, the CDC page on bed bugs cites a study from 2003 in Toronto in which calls to Toronto’s public health dept. to report bed bugs (46 total) and locations treated by pest control operators (PCOs) for bedbugs (847 total) were part of the data set.
For what it’s worth, I was interested to see that the number of actual infestations which were treated by PCOs was 18.4 times that of cases reported to the city. (These statistics apparently ignore any infestations left untreated and any treated by non-professionals.)
Bed bugs have only continued to spread exponentially in Toronto since 2003, as this recent Toronto Star article reports. The study cited by the CDC is interesting for other reasons too. Check it out.
We really need a similar study to be done here, and statistics to be compiled based on PCOs’ visits to NYC apartments, institutions, single-family homes, and shelters. I think we’d find quite a discrepancy compared with data on 311 bed bug complaints.
Perhaps then Mayor Bloomberg would start to worry, and the City Council would move beyond “considering banning the resale of mattresses” to battle stations.