A new bed bugs article in the LA Times today: nothing we haven’t seen before. It’s a fairly decent article with everything you expect: interviews with sufferers that convey the difficulty of dealing with this problem, quotes from entomologists about the scope and spread of bed bugs (I’m glad Dini Miller used the term “plague”!), and a run-down on bed bug attributes.
I had a few minor complaints. I didn’t like the fact that the author did not present this as a problem for Angelinos, or interview anyone from the local area. Although I know its sometimes hard to find people who will talk about bed bugs, I’m nevertheless annoyed that this article mostly pitches bed bugs as a NYC problem; it isn’t one. It’s a big problem around the world, in North America, and across the USA. While the author admits that “bedbugs aren’t confined to New York,” citing a Hollywood director who tried to get a NYC PCO to come and treat his mansion in Malibu, I think most readers see an article like this and extrapolate that it’s mostly a NYC problem–a common myth.
Daily statistics kept on the locations of people reading the blog indicate our readers are all over. Our last twenty visitors, the breakdown was as follows: 5 in NY, 2 in Massachusetts, 3 in the San Francisco Bay area, one each in Kansas City (Mo.) Wisconsin Rapids (Wi.), Winter Park (Fl.), Seattle, Chicago, Washington D.C., Aberdeen and Nottingham (UK), Singapore, and Bogota (Columbia). The only thinig unusual about this is that there are usually more Canadians in the mix. Though many people may log in out of curiosity, we should assume that the bulk are afflicted or know people who are. This is not a NYC problem, nor is it simply a problem for only those who travel to NYC.By the way, most websites can track your location; you need not fear that we know who you are — the website can register only anonymous details like the locality of the internet provider used to read the site, and your operating system, for some reason: I’m glad we’re popular with Mac users! Nevertheless, the statistics say something about the scope of the bed bug epidemic.
The other slightly annoying point in the article was that the procedure of eradicating bed bugs is given as follows:
Mattresses get tossed. Ditto couches, chairs and rugs. Clothes are washed and bagged. Extermination and replacement costs in many households easily total $5,000 and often run much higher.
I realize that this is not so much a description of what people should do as what they often do, but I think it’s important to point out that the current advice most PCOs give is not to throw out furniture, mattresses, rugs, unless it’s impossible to treat them. In most cases, it’s safer to treat them than to move them and risk either spreading them around the building by taking the item out, or (from a public health standpoint) spreading them to neighbors, who according to plenty of anecdotal evidence, will often happily cart home even those items which are carefully marked “Warning, Bedbugs!” or even partially damaged to render them unattractive to curb shoppers.
Anyway, I don’t want to be too critical, but I think these are two important points people should remember. All in all, seeing more articles about bed bugs is a good thing.
Update: BoingBoing also covered bed bugs again today. That may actually reach more people than a newspaper article.