Click here to listen to this brief news item on New York City Council’s Intro. 873 from WNYC news, New York.
The tone of the item is dominated by the Health Department’s reminder that bed bugs are only “a stressful and unpleasant nuisance,” and that the health department already has a page on its website about bed bugs, and that “the Department of Housing, Preservation and Development takes complaints, performs inspections and issues violation summonses when appropriate.”
Yes, and the city’s response to bed bugs so far has been so effective that bed bugs are (somehow, still) spreading at an alarming rate. I judge this only by the reports to HPD, since we don’t have a more complete set of data.
Some cities, like Cincinnati (well, okay — only Cincinnati), actually attempt to find out what percentage of their inhabitants have (or have had) bed bugs. The answer — in Cincinnati? 14.5%.
I would not be surprised if a similar percentage of New Yorkers had been afflicted with bed bugs.
But the way things are going, we will never know, because we are completely in denial about it and no one is asking the question and therefore we don’t have to deal with the answer.
As a general rule, I don’t wish bed bugs on anyone. Not even my worst enemy.
But I do wish a knowledge of what it is like to have bed bugs on those who feel they are merely “a stressful and unpleasant nuisance.” Lice are a stressful and unpleasant nuisance. Detected and treated, they usually do not trouble a person for more than a few days.
We regularly hear from people in New York, Cincinnati, London, Boston, Vancouver, and all points in-between who are getting bed bug treatment and yet are troubled by bed bugs for weeks and even months on end.
They lose a lot of sleep.
They suffer a lot of stress.
They use money — often thousands of dollars which should go to health insurance, or medications, or buying vegetables for their kids — to pay for treatment, endless rounds of laundry, plastic bags, and more treatment.
They get their belongings gassed with sulfuryl flouride.
They sometimes have to move.
They go to job interviews with red welts all over their faces and remain unemployed.
They stop having friends and family over, for fear others will become infested.
Those in multi-unit buildings who cannot afford to move may never get rid of the problem.
Think this causes very real psychological and physical health problems? You bet.
It is a lot worse than a nuisance.
The health effects of bed bugs are often a lot more serious than a bit of stress.
In this economy, in this expensive city, the Health Department is being a bit short-sighted not to see the potential of any problem that causes ongoing stress and saps one’s financial resources as a genuine health concern.
More on Intro. 873 here.
And read Renee’s response on New York vs. Bed Bugs. She did not receive the Health Dept.’s comments well either.