Bed bug infestations on the increase in Australia, says The Age

by nobugsonme on February 20, 2008

in australia, bed bugs, entomologists

The Age had an article on bed bugs on Sunday, “Bed Bug Infestations on the Increase,” citing Sydney entomologist Stephen Doggett’s data on the spread of bed bugs there:

. . . a survey of 121 pest managers undertaken last year by Sydney entomologist Stephen Doggett found that, across Australia, bedbug infestations had risen by a dramatic 4500% since 1999, with the biggest rise in Victoria.

And, though Australia is the home of Doggett’s Bed Bug Code of Practice, and therefore many of us think of it as a place of enlightenment as far as recognizing the seriousness of bed bugs and the proper ways to deal with them.  Nevertheless, the problem is still growing there. For example,

Exopest director and entomologist Simon Dixon said his Melbourne-based company treated 46 commercial and domestic bedbug infestations in 2007, compared with 35 in 2006 and 10 in 2005.

Other exterminators have noticed a similar rise. Melbourne Pest Control director Mark Chell has fielded nine calls about the problem in the past two weeks. In 2007, he treated about 12 to 15 infestations a month; in 2006, it was only five a month.

You’re thinking 46 a year sounds not so bad. But a rise from 12-15 a month to 9 in the last two weeks seems like a rapid rise. And these are individual PCOs. Add them all together and it’s one big problem. I have been criticized in the past by at least one professional as being alarmist for referring to a bed bug “epidemic;” unfortunately, I still believe that critic was wrong. I’m going with medical entomologist Doggett’s assessment: it’s not just an epidemic, it’s a pandemic:

The bedbug problem is part of a worldwide pandemic, according to Mr Doggett, the author of the Australian code of practice for bedbugs infestations. The code was updated last year as a result of the rise in cases.

The insects have built a strong resistance to traditional pyrethroid insecticides, and pest controllers have to deploy almost 1000 times the concentration of insecticide used on other creepy crawlies, he said.

And “extreme infestations” have been noticed among socially disadvantaged groups, involving thousands to even tens of thousands of bugs in a single dwelling.

Mr Doggett said these occupants usually do not have the money to pay for bedbug control or sometimes are unaware of the bedbugs.

In one case, he was called to a guesthouse in Sydney where a man who suffered from cognitive difficulties was found to be living in a room infested with tens of thousands of bedbugs.

“He would have been losing a significant amount of blood each night (and) he was probably anaemic,” Mr Doggett said.

I hear these extreme stories from NYC PCOs and entomologists too.

If you read about the “extreme infestations” and think, “Poor guy. Well, I’d put a stop to it before it got that bad!” — think again: we’re all connected, and this serious case will lead to many more cases. We need to locate and stop infestations before they grow to this point. For the sake of that sufferer, and also that of everyone around him.


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