Rich Jaffe reported today for Local 12 in Cincinnati that the combined city/county bed bug task force (Greater Cincinnati in Ohio, and Hamilton County,
Kentucky Ohio) has released a draft report of their plan to combat bed bugs. Jaffe also reports on one Silverton, Ohio building that is infested with bed bugs, and one tenant, who moved to flee an infestation (generally not a good idea).
Jessica Burton, who fled an infested apartment, said:
“They’re definitely in our couches, underneath the carpets, definitely in the bed, all over the bed. I was doing dishes one night, seen a couple crawling across the counter, thought it was wood tick.”
Jessica Burton says she fled her apartment here two weeks ago because it was so filled with bugs, leaving behind virtually everything. Her baby was covered with bites. Moving in last October, Burton says no one told her the apartment had been infested previously. Downstairs from her apartment, we found the bugs everywhere.
Rich Jaffe: “The owners of this building tell me they have dealt with the bed bug problem before and they are continuing to try and get a handle on it, but it’s really tough. They even have an exterminator headed over here on Saturday.”
Unfortunately, bed bug infestations are very difficult to fight. But they can be treated. With such a situation, the answer will not be simple, and will need to involve landlords, tenants (including all neighbors), and professional pest control operators. Having a city/county bed bug task force is important because the bed bug problem needs to be considered and dealt with outside of individual apartments being sprayed. Or it simply is never going to go away.
To their credit, local officials are very concerned about the current bed bug crisis in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky — as well as with the future projected “growth” of the bed bug problem:
In this draft report, city and county experts say, complaints about bed bugs could easily quadruple in the near future. If so, costs could reach one million dollars, locally. Problems include chemical resistant bugs and how to fund the task force attack. But for Jessica Burton, the question is where does she go from here.
“To me, I was proud of this. I woke up every day like I’m on top of the world, pay my bills by myself, don’t need to rely on anybody, then all of a sudden, you’re like …. Wow… That’s what I feel like, wow… Like I’m walking in another world every day cause we don’t have a clue how we’re going to redo it.”
We hear stories like this every day in the Bedbugger forums — stories of people, like Jessica Burton, who are seriously knocked off-kilter by the losses incurred in treating (or in this case fleeing) a bed bug infestation.
Cincinnati still has a lot of work to do. But they have already held meetings for residents, declared war on bed bugs, implemented a bed bug hotline, implemented a system for picking up infested furniture, and changed their laws to class bed bugs as “vermin” (local laws about pests did not name bed bugs among pests it was against the law to harbor). They’ve held multiple meetings of local officials, worked together with their counterparts in adjacent localities; officials in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana also held a tri-state meeting about bed bugs.
The Cincinnati Health Department’s website features bed bugs on the main page, with links to both a 2-minute public service announcement on bed bugs (download), and a 27-minute video (misleadingly dubbed an “infomercial” in the credits) on bed bugs from Tom Hooper, a Registered Sanitarian (!) from the Cincinnati Health Department (download).
The latter is much more informative, and (in my opinion) contains better quality information. It begins with an explanation of why people need to be worried about bed bugs (citing, among other cases, the Winnipeg 73-unit building that had been infested and treated for three years straight). It also goes through bed bug habits, identification (including photos of German cockroach nymphs and dog ticks, which people may mistake for bed bugs), inspection, prep, and treatment.
I don’t agree with absolutely everything in the video, for example, I’ve learned to tell people to get a professional’s or housing inspector’s inspection before they attempt to thoroughly clean and/or declutter their homes. Nothing should be moved until a professional is consulted. Also, many viewers will be mislead by the photos provided of the inspection process, since many — if not most –people will not see such glaring evidence. The information on treatment is also necessarily limited by time constraints, and sometimes a little information is a dangerous thing. I’d like to see more emphasis on professional treatment.
Despite these beefs, and the fact that it may not be the most exciting film ever shot, the bottom line is that landlords, homeowners, institutional managers, and tenants all need to be aware of this kind of information, and I applaud Cincinnati for providing it, prominently, on their Health Dept. website. I assume it is also being shown on television as PSAs generally are, but maybe someone local can confirm this.
Interestingly, the two videos’ credits tell us they were produced by the Cincinnati STD/HIV Training Center, suggesting that resources previously used to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS are being employed to help stop the spread of bed bugs. This use of resources implies that bed bugs are being taken seriously as a health problem.
Still, people like Jessica Burton are still experiencing the problem acutely — and it is seriously affecting their physical, mental, and financial well-being. Bring on the bed bug plan, Cincinnati and Hamilton County!