The Chronicle Herald in Halifax had more to say about bed bugs on Sunday, reminding readers that it can be hard to get a landlord to deal with bed bugs in private rentals, and pointing out exactly why the provincial government isn’t getting involved:
Tenants who move into privately owned apartments already infested with bedbugs might have trouble finding help to deal with unsympathetic landlords.
The provincial government doesn’t typically have much to do with that type of problem because it isn’t considered a risk to the public, Tara Walsh of the Department of Health Promotion and Protection said. “We wouldn’t address it.”
“Similar to lice, it’s a public health nuisance. There’s not a public health threat, it’s not a communicable disease, so it doesn’t cause disease, it’s just an infestation.”
“It’s just an infestation.”
I strongly believe that this kind of thinking is a failure of the imagination on the part of the public health officials in Nova Scotia.
The World Health Organization seems to think bed bugs are a public health concern. So much so, that as Renee of New York vs. Bed Bugs noted, WHO put a bed bug on the cover of this recent publication entitled The Public Health Significance of Urban Pests, alongside a rat and a tick.
Not alongside a louse, or a carpenter ant, or a carpet beetle.
Though bed bugs are not yet known to spread communicable diseases, they obviously cause problems with sleep, anxiety, and intense itching. The WHO study identifies allergic and immune system reactions to bed bug bites, including (occasionally) anaphylaxis, as well as a possible connection with bronchial asthma.
And desperate people may harm themselves and their families by misusing pesticides while attempting to get rid of their problems.
In addition, when people are on a tight budget, an unexpected outlay of funds (for bed bug treatment, or to replace discarded items) may also contribute to other health problems, because funds may be re-appropriated from other areas of life, such as the purchase of healthy foods.
You can read the Chronicle Herald article here. And read this story from yesterday, which shows that even in Halifax public housing, where the landlord does cover bed bug treatment, solutions to bed bug problems may be slow to reach tenants.