Cincinnati: “best weapon against bed bugs is … education”

by nobugsonme on October 2, 2007 · 13 comments

in bed bug education, bed bug epidemic, bed bugs, best practices, clothing, consumers, curbside, furniture, government, hospitals, information and help, ohio, public health, spread of bed bugs, tools and weapons, usa

Local News 12 in Cincinnati had a new segment on bed bugs on Monday. That city has declared their bed bug epidemic to be a huge problem, and started throwing energy, time, and resources into solving it as best they can. They appear to fully understand what a difficult task that is. But they’re starting with public education.

They’ve started a bed bug hotline for “tips and information,” and people are asked to completely encase infested items in plastic before disposing of them. Residents can call to have infested items picked up curbside by a dedicated sanitation crew that knows what they’re picking up.

Dale Grigsby, Cincinnati Health Department: “Get the stuff as clean as you can, cracks and crevices of the mattresses and box springs, the best thing you can do is wrap them, completely encase them in some sort of a plastic, zippered liner, bed bugs can’t feed if they can’t get out, and that’s where they harbor.”

I note that even though Cincinnati officials remind us that bed bugs do not spread disease, the Cincinnati Health Department is a key player in this campaign.

Residents are also being warned about the dangers of used and rented furniture.

And one woman’s story reminds us how easily bed bugs may travel home with us. Pamela Mackey believes she got them from a hospital where she spent two days at her husband’s bedside; apparently, it came home in a sealed envelope:

After staying by her husbands bedside for a few days at University Hospital recently, Pamela Mackey says she returned home, and opened the admissions packet to find something she didn’t want to see.

Pamela Mackey, Bond Hill: “Took out a letter and unbeknownst to me there was a little critter…and my dismay I crushed this little critter and blood everywhere.”

Mackey says the critter was a bedbug, and while she contacted the hospital to tell them she’s still…

“Angry because I had brought something into my home that previously had not occupied my space.”

Click to view the video. For anyone in Cincinnati who’s reading this, you probably know more than we do! But just in case, the bed bug hotline for Cincinnati residents only is (513) 591-6000. (If you’re not in Cincinnati, please don’t use that number. Seek the services of a qualified PCO, read our FAQs, and come to the forum if you have questions!)

I am very impressed with the way the government in Cincinnati is trying to work on this. I seriously hope that the news reports will focus on treatment options, as well as furniture disposal, which seems to be a major focus. It is essential to get a hold on bed bug refuse in order to halt the spread. However, good bed bug treatment, from experienced PCOs who know bed bugs, is also essential. It’s important that people know how to find a good PCO, and also know about the dangers of self-treating this difficult pest situation. Other tips might also help Cincinnati residents solve their bed bug issues more swiftly.

Cincinnati is still the only city in the US that is taking action on such a large scale. And there is still so much more that can be done. Mayor Bloomberg, are you listening? I’ll bet you a bucket of diatomaceous earth that New York City’s got more bed bugs per capita than Cincinnati. It’s a bet I hate to win, but I think my odds are good. Why are we waiting, New Yorkers?

1 lieutenantdan October 2, 2007 at 2:26 pm

Officials are still clueless in many ways.
The citi will see more problems if people start to throw mattress away. In my opinion one has a great chance of spreading the bugs at the moment that you lift your mattress to try to encase it. A PCO should spray first before the bugs are disturbed, I wish that I would have done that. All that these officials should do is to spend a few hours on to find out our tactics and all that we all have gone through and are going through, that iwould be the best education.

2 kurtck177 October 3, 2007 at 1:51 pm

I think NYC is in serious trouble… In the just the past week, two of my coworkers have come in with mysterious “spider bites” — one guy had 13 bites on him! I suggest that these may be bedbug bites and the response is “no, those leave blood marks” or “no, I’m sure it’s not…” Meanwhile I had an infestation for months and months with no indication until I saw the actual bugs crawling around… (I’m non-allergic)

3 entoman October 9, 2007 at 1:53 pm

Don’t get to excited yet! City officials in Cincinnati are grandstanding in an election year. They do not want to listen to researchers and professionals. This so called “Bed Bug” hotline is a joke. If they are serious about getting this problem under control, they would look at passing ordinances in the city and county to help prevent the spread of this bug. As for calling this an epidemic…remember that prior to WW2, 40% of homes had bed bugs. We are not even close to this number. We need to educate the community and let people know that it is ok to say “I have bed bugs”.

4 nobugsonme October 9, 2007 at 2:03 pm


Glad to see your comment, and welcome. Are you in the Cincinnati area?

Any city that wants to deal with this problem properly must get professional advice. I would be ridiculous for Cincinnati to not try and enlist the help of renowned local entomologsts such as Michael Potter (U Ky), as well as PCOs who have experience with bed bugs.

I also agree that education is key and people need to be able to admit their bed bug problems. As much as kurtck’s coworker is still unable to do so, I do believe that kurtck being willing to talk about bed bugs to his co-workers is a positive step in the right direction. The more we talk, the more others think about bed bugs.

Regarding the term epidemic: it can refer to situations of rapid and widespread growth. It does not only describe wide prevalence. Look it up! 🙂

5 entoman October 11, 2007 at 12:16 pm

Yes. I am from Cincinnati. My concern with this issue is the continued spread of misinformation. No matter how you define epidemic, when it is used to desribe this issue in the media it creates panic in the community. People should be just as concerned about other insects that carry disease and cause health problems. Bed bugs are not going away, but if we continue to get good research from Mike Potter, Dini Miller and others, we can get past the fear. That is half the battle. Let the education continue!!!

6 nobugsonme October 11, 2007 at 8:56 pm

Hi Entoman,

Thanks for your comments.

My intention in using the word “epidemic” is not to create panic in the community. Rather, I think people need to take the issue seriously. Since you earlier suggested Cincinnati officials need to listen to professionals and researchers (and I do agree with you on that), I am assuming you also feel the bed bug issue needs to be taken seriously. It is spreading at a very fast rate, everywhere.

That is not the same as saying bed bugs are everywhere already. They are spreading.

And like you, I appreciate the research of Potter, Miller, and others.

I quote from a recent article in the Voice which covered Michael Potter’s remarks at the PCT symposium on bed bugs:

“We have to be in an absolute bed bug state of mind,” warned Dr.
Michael Potter, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky and leading expert in the now global bed bug war, with no apologies to Billy Joel. “This problem is not going to go away. I don’t see how the problem is going to get better. It’s going to get chaotic.”

Potter came equipped with a PowerPoint presentation and tales of bed bugs “oozing their way” through hospitals, nursing homes, movie theaters, drycleaners, Laundromats, schools, and all manner of dwelling spaces.

“Probably every major university in the U.S. has bed bugs in its dormitories,” he said. He flashed a particularly disheartening slide of an infested mattress in the “heart transplant wing of a major urban hospital.”

You probably read the article, entoman, and maybe you were even at the symposium. I bolded Dr. Potter’s words above to stress that they were not the sensational stylings of the journalist, but instead the words of one of the foremost bed bug experts in the world.

So I do not think I am spreading “misinformation” by using the term “epidemic”. Again, I welcome your participation on the site, and your further comments, though I guess we may agree to disagree on this issue. I still sense that you understand the word epidemic to mean something different than I do, though the dictionary tells me that the sense in which I am using it is correct.

I do hope if you find any misinformation here that you will point it out. We are trying to provide a site with good solid information, and the presence of bed bug professionals contributes to that.

7 entoman October 12, 2007 at 2:55 pm

I apppreciate your forum for discussionand will continue to view and comment on your blog. I will encourage others to view and comment as well. As I meet with community leaders in this area I will keep you informed of any progress. Since I am close to some of the researchers and speak to them weekly, I will share any and new information as it is given to me. I have also started doing my own research on some posssible new treatment methods that may give us a different option than conventional pesticides.

8 nobugsonme October 12, 2007 at 3:20 pm

Thanks for your support and participation, entoman. Please keep us posted!

9 October 18, 2007 at 11:22 pm

How can I contact an entomologist about ths problem, with my questions, or is it possible to do so? Is there one on this blog? I am in Cincinnati also.


10 nobugsonme October 19, 2007 at 4:44 am

What questions do you have?
Why not ask your questions here?
There are entomologists and PCOs who run the site. If they can’t help you, we can recommend someone.

11 entoman October 19, 2007 at 5:05 pm

I am an entomologist. I may be able to help.

12 CarpathianPeasant July 26, 2008 at 1:15 am

Don’t call Cincinnati…? Whadda mean don’t call Cincinnati! I live less than a mile across the river and am an Ohio native waiting for information from Covington city hall that’s never going to come.

You know what I got from the landlord? Extermination preparation instructions copied from a PDF file posted by a pest control company in OREGON and a copy of a Wiki How To….

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