Excerpt from article re NYC Department of Ed policy

by bugzinthehood on May 3, 2007 · 28 comments

in bed bugs

All NYC residents, please call your Assemblypersons to urge passage of Councilman Gianaris’ bedbug notification bill. See below the misinformation quoted by Ms. Feinberg.

Gianaris seeks alerts if bedbugs in schools

By Nathan Duke


Margie Feinberg, spokeswoman for the Education Department, said bedbugs do not live in schools but are brought in on students’ clothing. She said the city Health Department requires specimens to be collected in a Ziploc bag.

Gianaris said citywide bedbug infestations have nearly doubled in the past three months, increasing from 34 cases at 24 schools to 72 cases at 43 schools. He said the insect has especially been a nuisance in his district but did not know how many cases had been reported.

“For some reason, bedbugs have hit western Queens schools particularly hard,” he said. “My plan begins our effort to fight back.”

He said his bill is now on the floor of the Assembly and will be put up for a vote in early May. He said he expects the bill to pass.

1 jessinchicago May 4, 2007 at 10:26 am

Misinformation, indeed. I think it’s likely that bedbugs DO live in some classrooms- think of all the hiding places and the plethora of readily available bloodmeals! Listen, if bedbugs can live in the Ralph Lauren offices, they sure as heck can live in public schools.

And I think it’s almost criminal that the representatives of the NYC public schools continue to blame the children for the spread of bedbugs. The fact of the matter is that NO ONE knows where these bugs are originating. It’s possible that a teacher- or a principal, or a school nurse!- could have an infestation at home and inadvertently bring a bug or two to work in a purse or briefcase. And if those bugs crawl out and onto the students… Well, it’s just plain irresponsible of these people to keep telling the media that this is a problem caused by kids. It’s probably exacerbated by the proximity of human bodies inside classrooms, but we’ll never know- and cannot pretend to know- the original sources.

These people should be working together to find a solution instead of pointing fingers and refusing to grasp the reality of the situation. People, you’ve got bedbugs in your schools. DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT.

I’m glad Gianaris is on top of this. And thanks (so much!) bugzinthehood for catching this and posting it for us.

2 lieutenantdan May 4, 2007 at 11:05 am

Hi everyone,
I wish to thank Assemblyman Mike Gianaris he is a true hero! I wish we had more representative like him. You always will have my vote.

Please, everyone CALL IMMEDIATELY your Assemblyman and demand that they pass the BED BUG NOTIFICATION BILL and if your not in New York call your representatives and inform them on what Gianaris is doing for New York City. Explain to them how much you have suffered and also the costs involved and all you can think of telling them about this problem. Explain to them about the delosory parasitosis that we all experience, that should be considered a health problem. Keep in mind that the bugs could possibly spread disease, they are blood suckers. The fact is that the professionals are using old information when they state that the bed bugs do not transmit disease, they do not know for sure. See the article that I put on the site Bed Bugs Year 1905.

Keep in mind that you do not have to give your full name when you speak to your representatives.

I have been in contact with Assemblyman Gianaris’ office and I strongly suggest you do the same and contact your Assemblyman. You can google to find out that information if you do not know it already. Mention bedbugger.com as a site for them to use for information and explain to them that they can additionally go into the sidebars.

Also contact Nathan Duke at Times Ledger and tell him your story especially if you do not live in NYC. 718-229-0300

I am going to try to find out the phone number of the idiot Margie Feinberg and
educate her a little also. My gut feeling is that Margie Feinberg probably knows how badly infested the city and country is but is trying to cover it up.
Well Margie, I would not feel sorry for you if the fear of God gets put into you and your relatives and all of your politician friends and their relatives that support you and you all aquire infestations. Margie it will be difficult to cover up the bites on your face for the news cameras. Yes, Lets not forget to include our Mayor.
The Mayor is playing the fiddle as Rome is burning.

3 lieutenantdan May 4, 2007 at 11:09 am

I forgot to mention that it would be great if you all called Assemblyman Gianaris and thank him for his support.
Maggie answers the phones and she seems to have a good heart.
718 -545-3889

Get going everyone, lets make this happen!

My best.

4 jessinchicago May 4, 2007 at 11:42 am

Lt. Dan, I applaud you for your efforts and I encourage everyone to follow suit.

Also, you mention that the experts are relying on old information when they say that bedbugs do not transmit disease. I’ve thought this to be true for quite some time. In fact, Bugalina and I have discussed it on numerous occasions- and we agreed that in the future, it’s likely that we will find out that bedbugs do transmit disease via bites. Hopefully, we’re wrong, but I can’t imagine it’s much different than mosquitos transmitting the West Nile virus. I could be wrong, of course, but it just makes sense to me.

Anyway, thanks again for providing the info above. Bedbuggers, get on your phones!

5 hopelessnomo May 4, 2007 at 12:07 pm

Well, let’s tell that to Dr. Jerome Goddard, Mississippi Department of Health entomologist:

“Bedbugs are not one of the reportable things like pests that are regulated in an eating place. Bedbugs do not carry disease. We deal with pests of health importance, like mosquitoes, ticks, fleas and lice because they carry diseases.”


But it’s not a big deal. I’ve put them on my arm and let them suck and it doesn’t hurt.

Well, thanks Dr. G, thanks a lot.

6 parakeets May 4, 2007 at 12:55 pm

I agree the bite doesn’t hurt, it’s the subsequent itching, for weeks, that is just one of the problems.

As for schools…bedbugs are a PREDATOR. Schools should try to keep these predators away from our children, and not ignore this problem or blame children for bringing bedbugs into school on their clothes.

This is what I forsee: Schools will (and do) have bedbugs. People who work in schools (not just the kids) will therefore get bedbugs. Then, and only then, will the problem be addressed. We’ll have to wait for a principal or two to come home from school with a bedbug in his or briefcase for this problem to be resolved.

7 lieutenantdan May 4, 2007 at 1:03 pm

Dr. Jerome Goddard sounds like another idiot.

Hey, I have an idea. Maybe this site should have a sidebar added which contains idiot quotes from professionals, politicians, journalists etc. Then we can track all of the misinformation and at the end of each quarter we can vote and give an award to the biggest idiot.

Goddard, having some bed bugs bite your arm in a controlled environment is not the same as having them invade you home, your sanctuary. Goddard obviously does not read this site or talks to anyone who is experiencing an infestation.
Shame on you Goddard.
Maybe Mississippi is so full of blood sucking parasites that one more blood sucking parasite does not matter much. The stupidity!

8 kurtck177 May 4, 2007 at 1:48 pm

It will take a few lawsuits against the city by the parents of stricken children before anything will happen. And the city always settles. Parents, here’s your payday.

9 James Buggles May 4, 2007 at 3:40 pm

I also vote for a Hall of Shame! It’ll double your traffic overnight.

10 Bugalina May 4, 2007 at 3:48 pm

I phoned Gianaris’s office 3X…just to tell them that I support what they are doing. I think there is a big cover-up going on throughout the City government because they know how ruinous these bugs are and how expensive and difficult they are to exterminate. I have been on this Blog and the Yahoo Group for one year, and I have been witness to a continual stream of tormented people who are throwing out thousands of dollars of bedding and furniture, spending thousands of dollars in extermination…families being stressed to the maximum..financially and emotionally ..unsuspecting people are moving into infested apts. and homes. One of my husband’s clients recently admitted to selling his bed bug infested home. He was going thru a divorce..he said he “felt bad about it”….just think how those people must feel that moved in…Where in G-d’s name is this going to END..Where are the LAWS !! Where is the EDUCATION !!..The Board of Education probably thinks that by ignoring this they can wash their hands of responsibility….We need something that kills these monster bugs…really kills them…we need goverment recognition of the horrors of bed bugs….No one wants to step up to the plate and admit that this is a terrible situation…this is no time for “being green”…we need a pesticide that is going to work and work well…not this crap that has to be applied 10 times..and then, maybe they’ll be dead…I am fed up…and disgusted by this continuous ignorance….

11 S May 4, 2007 at 5:07 pm

Bugalina, the issue that you mention is responsibility. Who is going to take responsibility?

Because you can bet that anyone who “steps up to the plate,” just to “admit this is a terrible situation,” is gonna be left with an angry mob when somebody says, “Well what are you gonna do about it?” It’s hard to voice your concern when you don’t also have The Answer. You can’t just say “This sucks” and not have something to back yourself up with. It just sounds like complaining.

Everybody wants this to gain awareness and support. But nobody wants to “own” the issue. Because it’s just too hard. It’s too damn hard. The issues with bedbugs are just insane. It’s personal, it’s awkward, there are no guarantees, liability is vague, everyone’s case is completely different, it touches housing issues and social issues and yes, health issues, and THERE IS NO CURE. It’s like a disease without a cure – without even the POSSIBILITY of a “cure.” Because it’s not like we could ever “cure” bedbugs by taking a pill and watching our weight. It is a COMPLETE mindf–k (sorry, now I’m really getting this all out) and there is just no easy answer. There’s no hard answer. There’s no SINGLE answer. So who can own it?

Who can take responsibility for every facet of bedbugs? No single person, and no single entity. I mean, let’s be positive and envision the future here. All the pest control companies get together, and resolve their differences. They come up with a “Bedbug Protocol for PCOs.” Great, now all the world’s PCOs are on the same page. But that’s like what, 1/8 of the problem? Less?

Then all the dermatologists and MDs get together, and resolve their differences. Great. Now there’s a “Bedbug Protocol for Dermatologists.” They can all help us take biopsies, distinguish bites from other skin conditions, and help us to stop feeling so itchy. Maybe we’ve solved another 1/8 of the problem.

Then all the psychologists and counselors get together, and resolve their differences. They share thoughts on Complex PTSD and how to help people understand their paranoia and hypervigilance. They write a “Bedbug Protocol for Psychologists.” Finally, now people are getting the help they need. Another 1/8 of the problem, under control.

Then all the entomologists get together, and resolve their differences and share knowledge. Okay. So good information is available. We all know exactly how long they go between meals, exactly why some people don’t react, exactly what the differences are between nymph bites and adult bites, what kills them, what doesn’t, and how to find their weaknesses. They distribute a flyer called “Bedbugs 101.” Everyone in the world is required to read it. Another 1/8, solved.

Then all the chemical producers get together, and come up with one miracle chemical. It kills fast and lasts long and is safe for indoor use. It’s not banned in the US, it’s legal. Okay, now we’re talking.

Then a case goes to the Supreme Court. Perfect. It’s impossible to resolve without the highest order of the law. The tenant wins. Then all the lawyers get together and write a code for bedbugs. The “Bedbug Liability Law.” Who is responsible, and in what circumstances. Now we’re chipping away. We’re making progress.

THEN all the local government officials get together with the lawyers, the chemical producers, the entomologists, the psychologists, the dermatologists and the PCOs. They have a biiiiiig conference. They all share everything, and put out a plan.

THEN the federal government officials get together to enforce it. There’s education, there’s funding, there’s public awareness campaigns. There’s a complete, national protocol and it is enforced. Finally, the social stigma is lifted. People “come out” about their bedbugs left, right and center. We stop blaming each other and start blaming the bugs.

But who can own this initiative? An independent source? Us bedbuggers, who are we? We’re citizens of the world, and we’re on the forefront of the epidemic, but does that mean we can lead this? Hey – we’d have to get together first, to resolve our differences.

But even then. I guess I just see this as having so many facets, so many different fronts on which to solve this problem, and it feels like without a holistic solution, we’re just setting off little flea bombs in different cities across the country. Like that law that was going to ban the resale of mattresses? That law is like Kleen Free-ing the corner of your bed, in the hopes that there are bugs right there on that spot. We have been seeing the beginnings of some initiatives, but they are “contact killers.” We need something residual.

Whoa. Okay. Many months of rage and thinking, right here in 13 short paragraphs.

I think I need to go walk around.

12 hopelessnomo May 4, 2007 at 8:03 pm

Courage, S.

We start with telling the truth. And, I think, we don’t wait for heroes.

13 Doug Summers MS May 4, 2007 at 11:05 pm

Lt Dan
You need listen to Dr Goddard’s podcast. He addresses the problem with a review of the available scientific information. He acknowledges the shortcomings of the studies. I have spoken with him and he is a sharp public health physician. I have a bibliography of scientific studies that he provided at the Washington DC conference last year.

The major evidence that bed bugs do not spread disease comes from an animal study where they attempted to pass Hepatitis B to chimps with bed bugs that were fed on Hepatitis-B laced blood. There are a number of problems with the study, but it is the best research that has been done on the subject.

There was a report from the 30’s from a doctor that worked in a Smallpox quarantine facility that Smallpox was being spread by bed bug bites, but the report was observational without any true experimental controls. There are occasional reports in the media about other diseases being spread, but no scientific evidence has been produced that is generally accepted by researchers.

The one theory that is acknowledged, but still unproven is the crawling hypodermic needle theory. The question is that if a bed bug bites a person with an infectious virus could there be enough viral material stuck to the bed bugs mouth parts to infect a second victim that is bitten in rapid succession?

The figure that Dr Goddard cites is 1 infection for 200 incidents for dirty needle sticks in medical settings. If the transmission rate for bed bug bites is similar, then we might be missing the association due to a low transmission rate. For obvious reasons we can’t experiment directly on human volunteers.

Please don’t trash Dr Goddard; he is just the messenger of an inexact area of science. He has stated that more research is needed in this area. My impression was that he is a sincere scientist. If there was any solid evidence I think he would be the first to point it out.

Doug Summers MS

14 nyjammin May 4, 2007 at 11:11 pm

I don’t understand this. Bedbugs were eradicated once. What is so hard. We did it once and we can do it again. It’s not like we’ve never dealt with it before. Who do we blame? Who cares whose to blame. The politicians should just state that there’s a problem and we need to fix it. Simple. I agree with Bugalina. Forget green and come up with a pesticide that kills much quicker than the ones we have now that take 10x to treat. These are sorry excuses for a pesticide.

15 Bugalina May 4, 2007 at 11:35 pm

I am trying to think about how to say this easily…Bed bugs are fast becoming a virulent pest insect…maybe not “poisonous” as per the definition of virulent..but definitely “hostile” as per the definition of virulent…I tried to get Bill OReilly to do a segment on Bed Bugs..I actually got a call back from his producer, Ron, saying that “at this time” it wasn’t something Mr. OReilly was interested in…I am not blaming him..he is a “have”..and he has no reality on how hellish this bug is….Bed bugs are going to be a dividing line between the ” haves and the have nots”…Why do I say this?…because…I have enough money to pay for treatments…I am an owner of a single family home. I have lost thousands and thousands of dollars because of Bed bugs….It hurts..its horrible…but I did have enough money to pay for the treatments…So , after those who can afford the exhorbitanant costs of extermination….Who’s left….People who are at the mercy of landlords who will rent their empty, infested apt. units to unsuspecting , economically vulnerable people…Are you are all following what Parakeets is telling us…that her infested Bldg. in the suburbs of Boston is now filling the empty units with Section 8 housing…because they know that these people are less likely to sue or holler or make trouble because of bed bugs….So where is this leading??? Down a very immoral path….No one should live with bed bugs..NO ONE….Charging $400.oo dollars per room..to exterminate them is …hideous…( that’s the going rate on Long Island)…..So those with the financial means are being milked…and the vulnerable are being sent , unknowingly, into infested apts….The chemicals that are being used take too long…How can people be expected to disrupt their entire lives..and homes..in order to “prepare” for extermination…Its ludicrous !!!! So the problem cannot go away unless there is equality for all concerned….Bed Bug extermination has to become affordable and effective….affordable and effective….without this..we are all screwed…the haves and have nots alike..” One chemical, one method…that works for all people”…Unless this happens…we are going to see a terrible societal injustice…

16 Doug Summers MS May 5, 2007 at 12:27 am

Currently there are two quick effective methods to eradicate bed bugs that are available in the US; the first is thermal treatment (heat) & the second is Vikane gas.

Unfortunately, it is unlikely that we will see a new “magic bullet” from the pesticide industry anytime soon.

A researcher explained it to me simply, “there isn’t a large enough demographic of users to recover the tens of millions of dollars that are required to bring a new product to a niche market. Don’t hold your breath waiting for the pesticide industry on this one.”

One chemical is highly unlikely to be effective for long, due to the adaptive nature of the species. Read some of the archived articles about pesticide resistance. Use of a single chemical treatment only is famous for producing treatment resistant survivors (AKA super bugs) that reproduce resistant offspring.

Most of the advances seem to be coming from the academic researchers that are publishing articles in the journals. Perhaps the emergence of bed bugs on campus will spur more funding for their studies.

Doug Summers MS

17 jessinchicago May 5, 2007 at 1:14 pm

Hey All-

I’m so glad you all chose to comment. It’s great to see so many different perspectives here.

I think it’s important that we don’t draw too much attention to people we feel are doing an injustice to the issue. Because, as we know, any publicity- even bad publicity- is good publicity. And if we do choose to publicly disagree with the opinions of others (especially “experts”), I think it’s particularly important that we explain, logically and rationally, why we think they are wrong. Calling them idiots, even if it’s warranted (!), won’t really help our cause.

Thanks again for commenting, everyone.

18 nobugsonme May 6, 2007 at 4:17 am

Thanks Jess! I echo your appreciation of the discussion, which is wonderful, and your reminder about being rational and civil. You’re doing an awesome job Jess! (S too!)

Feinberg back in February:


19 willow-the-wisp May 6, 2007 at 6:45 pm

Well notifying all parents would mean telling 1/4 of all New Yorkers, #’s guess. But “why o why” does his bill not include any treatment measures for the schools themselves??? All this is for ALL schools infested or nay … as in pro-active and preventative treatment measures not limited to even yanking out some sort of insecticide(s)?
Informing parents how to treat is great–does he expect every single parent to completely eradicate every single bug from every single child? The article said it spreads easily and fast. Duh???????????????????????????

20 willow-the-wisp May 6, 2007 at 8:11 pm

And now I’ve read everyone else’s comments and I have to piggyback on Bugalina because what Bugalina said made the most sense to me. It is traumatic for all–always–no mater WHAT your financial status is. This is because if, say, 20% of the population can’t afford treatments … these 20% will always unwittingly (or eventually even otherwise) transmit the bug again and again and again. So, although I am poor and feel “virulently angry” with the fact that this bug has basically ruined my life, I know that should it come to pass that only middle class and upwards will be able to get rid of the bug (finally after 8, 10, 12, treatments—which is, about where we stand now) then these people will eventually become more lower class financially because of the excessive costs involved in having to pay for re-extermination procedures over and over again.
So then eventually THEY will get the bug again and again–and so on … and so will their clients and their upper class friends and it WILL NEVER END…
These 13 paragraphs S. brings up and the resolution of them is what will PREVENT an evermore SUPER BUG, BED BUG from constantly evolving along with the pesticides.

Rotating pesticides is just a temporary (money making) band-aid. It is all we have—and about half of the companies, as far as I can tell, are botching the job anyway.

This only all the more weakens the “rotating pesticide band aid theory”.

The likelihood that I will be cited and possibly even evicted because my rug has some white powder stains on it—to protect me from a blood sucking, most likely disease carrying and spreading parasitic insect, is not only ludicrous but far worse than anything Marxist-like.
We are talking about HUMAN BEINGS not chimps or white rats in a lab! I feel compelled to wash away all of that powder that is keeping those blood sucking
Bugs–temporarily–out of my abode! But if I’m cited and thrown out into the street because of that—or even threatened of an eviction—-I will follow suit file law suit—whatever it takes.
Otherwise … we might all just as well become Marxists because of this horrible bug.
I will most definitely, without defiance take a stand on this issue. I hope all other lower economically resourced people will do the same.
If it comes down to that—I will have no qualms getting in front of a camera.
Y’all already know I know how to work a crowd!
Unity For the sake of basic human dignity—that should be the theme, I say, in fighting this bug whatever discipline or financial status you happen to have. Remember the fall after the Roaring Twenties—this bug will be the cause of that—and sooner than most of us realize…

21 willow-the-wisp May 6, 2007 at 8:14 pm

I can’t beleive I said all of that!

22 jessinchicago May 6, 2007 at 9:03 pm

“Unity for the sake of basic human dignity.” I like that, Willow. I like it a whole lot.

And Nobugs, it’s great to see you. I just keep repeating “What would Nobugs do?” I think I’m going to make a WWNBD T-shirt to commemorate this experience. We miss you but everyone is participating and helping out and I think things are A-ok over here in bedbugger land. See you again soon!

23 pissedinastoria May 6, 2007 at 9:09 pm

The next step is making it a duty of landlords to tell potential tenants that their buildings are infested. That way people can press charges against bastards who fail to do so.

24 willow-the-wisp May 6, 2007 at 9:46 pm

Hey pissed I’ve recently “heard” that here in SF that IS the law–but does it happen???? NO!!!!!!!!!! Anywhere you go the basic theme in USA seems to point to YOU the consumer as the fault of the bug! YOU are the culprit and YOU are culpable–THAT’S been MY unfortunate experience.

there are some phone #s listed higher up in the thread … care to call???

I’m really so very sorry if this happened to you, but showing cause and proof is really very difficult. Especially, in a city or area where the bugs are raging through the neighborhoods this is very hard to prove. In the past 2 months I’ve watched mattresses go out onto the sidewalk on … like a block by block basis.
There are now tons of “free books” and “free mattresses” up on Nob hill eight blocks up from where I live. No sign … “bug infested” Nada!!!
Yesterday there were five free bags of books—today only one was left—that’s one way how the bug spreads. And I in no way mean to disregard your anger in any way shape or form–you are very welcome.

25 willow-the-wisp May 6, 2007 at 9:47 pm

very welcome here!

26 Doug Summers MS May 7, 2007 at 4:32 am

Thank you for your thought provoking post. The realities of this epidemic are harsh. Hope is hard to envision with a bug that has a Freddy Kroger like ability to come back again and again.

If our scientists were to develop proof that bed bugs transmit disease, we would suddenly have government funding and the attention of the media. Until then we have an uphill battle of making the case that bed bugs are a public health problem.

Right now our efforts might be best focused on getting adequate funding to the university researchers that are working on the next magic bullet.

Perhaps the next effective approach will be a form of Advantage or Frontline for humans, but I think you are correct that it will take a multi faceted effort from many different levels of our society before we see any meaningful change.

Doug Summers MS

27 Bugalina May 7, 2007 at 12:11 pm

How come a “super malaria mosquito” hasn’t happened ??? Apparently, from everything I read…the lifting of the ban on DDT has been HIGHLY successful in killing off the malaria carrying mosquitos…since the reintroduction of DDT , deaths in Africa have been reduced by the hundreds of thousands…..I am skeptical about motives….In the United States making money always takes precedence over the general wellfare of the people…This is how a capitalistic society works….it’s profit driven…there isn’t much profit in DDT…

28 hopelessnomo May 8, 2007 at 10:11 am

Hey Doug, thanks for your comments. I’m actually sorry to hear that Goddard is a player in the bedbug research community. I thought he was a figure with a marginal sphere of influence. How one conceives of a problem determines the possible solutions. I don’t want someone like Goddard framing the questions; we’ll never get answers. He is useless to us. “Not a big deal” may be a small assuaging lie but a lie it is. (He is by no means the least attractive bedbug scientist out there. Richard Fagerlund takes that distinction, but at least Fagerlund can only make unhappy those unlucky enough to write to him for advice.)

Anyway, enough about Goddard.

So, who is doing the most interesting bedbug research, since you attend these conferences and read the papers? Is it Eric Siljander? Foraging ecology and pheromones? I was interested in this interview with Stephen Kells, University of Minnesota:

While most bedbugs cluster (in groups ranging from tens to hundreds and sometimes thousands) in hidden crannies surrounding a bed, a handful of wanderers can often be found in more distant locations, such as an air vent or other remote nook.

Why, Kells wondered, do these outlying bugs stray far from their food source? Perhaps they are seeking a place of safety, dispersing to find a new host, or leaving an infestation that has grown too large. In any case, the behavior has direct implications for pest control–especially if the “outliers” are laying eggs.

This is interesting stuff. Who else is looking into this?

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