Bed bugs have arrived in the United States House of Representatives.
All this time we’ve been waiting and hoping to see cities and states, in a painfully gradual trickle, taking action on the national bed bug epidemic. I confess I’m rather amazed at this turn of events.
On May 15, Representative G. K. Butterfield (D-North Carolina) introduced H. R. 6068, aka the Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2008. The bill’s cosponsors are: Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), Rep. Donald Payne (D-New Jersey), Rep. Doris Matsui (D-California), and Rep. William Jefferson (D-Louisiana).
This bill would establish a grant program for states to inspect hotel rooms:
whereby not fewer than 20 percent of rooms in lodging facilities in such State are inspected annually for cimex lectularius, commonly known as the bed bug.
The grants can be used to conduct inspections, train inspectors and educate hotel managers and staff in bed bug prevention and eradication.
It’s significant that Butterfield evidently felt compelled to deflect ridicule:
“Unfortunately, it’s not a joke,” Butterfield said in a news release. “Fifty years after being virtually eliminated, bed bugs are back all across the country.”
I am mindful that in 2004, UK urban pest management expert Clive Boase, in describing an “epidemiological approach” to bed bug infestations, wrote that:
Such an epidemiological approach can also help to highlight improved control strategies. For example, anything that can be done to reduce the time taken to identify and completely eliminate current infestations (e.g., the development of effective monitoring devices, or of more effective treatments) will reduce the opportunity for current infestations to give rise to new infestations, before being eventually eliminated. Such an approach will also indicate that infestations in high-turnover locations such as hotel rooms, are particularly likely to give rise to more secondary infestations in the community, and should therefore be seen as ‘priority’ infestations for control. [emphasis added]
Source: Boase, C. J. (2004) Bed-bugs – reclaiming our cities. Biologist, 51 (1), 1-4 (non-working link to PDF of article removed, 2014).
I mention this here because, although the logic is familiar to those of us who are well-versed in bed bug issues, it may escape the understanding of people — policy and opinion makers alike — who have yet to become acquainted with the most basic features of the bed bug epidemic.
I look forward to seeing the story of this bill develop. Yes, it should surprise no one that the hotel industry is first in line for legislative notice. But does it matter? Are the larger goals of achieving control of bed bugs still served? We will see.
Is this the biggest surprise in our bed bug world to date? I don’t know. I remember my reaction when Cincinnati committed itself to taking action and we first realized what the possibilities were.
So, weigh in, please. Let’s hear it all.