More on the New Haven case described here on Friday.

A more recent article from News 8 in New Haven suggests that the

The infestation started in one unit and moved to 14 other apartments. The city paid for hotel rooms so the professionals could come in and steam clean room by room, bed by bed.

“We’re steaming it, the steam will kill the eggs and a lot of the bugs it contacts,” said Jim Miller of Yale Pest Elimination Corporation.

The bugs are not just in the beds, they could be in clothes.

Steaming, especially dry steaming (which avoids problems with mold and mildew) is a good way of killing bed bugs and eggs. But as PCO Miller’s words imply, it will only kill bed bugs that are steamed directly. The same is true of eggs (though the quotation implies otherwise). Although I am glad to see PCOs using this method, I do think it needs to be used in concert with pesticides and/or dusts. Killing “a lot of the bugs,” after all, is not the goal here. Steaming needs to be followed-up by other methods. If it is, I don’t doubt more bed bugs can be killed more swiftly than without the steaming step.

I do note, however, that this article is misleading. If the PCO is using other methods, this isn’t mentioned. The article therefore might give readers the idea that steaming alone is a good way to beat bed bugs. While professional steaming equipment will probably do a better job than home steamers, it is not a comprehensive plan to eradicate bed bugs, which hide well, and are likely to be hiding in places the steam cannot reach.

“They steamed my mattress and my box spring yesterday and removed all my clothes out of my clothes closet,” said Witherspoon.

“We provided them with new clothing because obviously we are concerned about them taking their own clothing with them because the clothing may be contaminated,” said Jimmy Miller, Director of the New Haven Housing Authority.

“They’re making sure all the clothes get washed they’re doing what they have to do, they stepped up to the plate,” said Maria Ayala, resident.

The housing authority is promising prevention at all its complexes.

“We’re going be increasing our house keeping efforts,” said Jimmy Miller.

It’s great that they’re aware of the clothing issue, though laundry would have been sufficient and probably saved them a lot of money as well as making tenants happy.
I note that my prior concern–expressed in the previous post about New Haven– has not been addressed: that is the question of whether precautions were taking to prevent bed bugs being spread to the hotel.

In addition, authorities need to realize, prevention is not simply a matter of housekeeping (as housing official Miller suggests; I am, by the way, fascinated that the PCO’s name is Jim Miller and the Housing Authority official’s name is Jimmy Miller, and I wonder if they’re related).

Prevention requires education–for all tenants and employees–about where bed bugs come from and how to avoid getting them. (Note: they don’t come from women who carry bags and have cats.)

Prevention requires supplies (such as good mattress and pillow encasements that may help keep bed bugs from infesting beds) and services (regular inspections–either manual, or by a good bed bug dog) will help new infestations be caught earlier so they can be treated quickly.

The bottom line is that New Haven housing officials — like all landlords in multi-unit dwellings — need to accept the inevitability of more bed bugs being brought into the building. It’s a matter not of if, but when. And knowing that, they need to have wide awareness among tenants and employees of how to recognize the signs. Preventive treatments, such as food grade diatomaceous earth (DE) might be a way the city can help the building stay bed bug-free longer.

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