Bed bugs — and bed bug legislation — in the news

by nobugsonme on May 16, 2009 · 2 comments

in anxiety, bed bugs, public health, stress

Bed bugs are covered by some local newspapers every week.  But some syndicated stories reach a lot of readers.

One compelling story from the Springdale Gardens Apartments in Austin, Texas appeared on Wednesday on (click to read story or see video).

Yahoo! News picked up the video from the KVUE story on Friday, where it doubtless got many more viewers.  And Yahoo! accompanied this with a McClatchy syndicated news story (which appeared in papers all over the US on Friday) about the resurgence of bed bugs, and the recently reintroduced Butterfield Bill, the Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2009:

Democratic Rep. G.K. Butterfield just introduced legislation that would authorize $50 million that’s already in the Department of Commerce budget to train health inspectors how to recognize signs of the insects.

The Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite Act of 2009 also would require public housing agencies to submit bedbug inspection plans to the federal government. It would add bedbugs to a rodent and cockroach program in the Department of Health and Human Services . It also would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research bedbugs’ impact on public mental health.

Butterfield’s letter to congressional colleagues about the legislation attracted lots of attention: It was topped with a full-color picture of the insect sitting on human skin.

“Unfortunately, in recent years, the United States has seen a resurgence in bedbugs,” the letter reads. “That’s right — they’re back in the sack — and biting.”

There is much more discussion of the bill in the news this time around, and — though libertarian news sites in particular enjoy jumping on this kind of bill — there’s a lot less snark and sniggering on the ‘net about the bill than there was last year.

I love how Dr. Michael Potter (of the University of Kentucky) puts the health issues caused by bed bugs in the spotlight:

“Most health departments say, ‘Hey, we don’t deal with bedbugs,’ ” Potter said.

Those who’ve suffered outbreaks say that the anxiety it induces can be debilitating. Potter said many sufferers tossed out furniture and could spend thousands of dollars on repeated treatments from pesticide companies. They call him about anxiety, insomnia, shame and the incessant annoyance of itchy red welts on their skin.

“They’re, like, ready to blow their brains out,” Potter said. “It’s emotionally distressing. Anyone that has never had a bedbug problem is not one to judge whether we’re dealing with a medical, emotional public health issue.”

Did you catch that?

Yes, Dr. Potter said, “Anyone that has never had a bedbug problem is not one to judge whether we’re dealing with a medical, emotional public health issue.”

Go Dr. Michael Potter!

In fact, anyone watching the video from Austin of stressed-out mom Sommer Jackson showing off bite marks on her adorable infant, or Sommer’s neighbor Laketra Jackson who threw out all her bedding and still has bed bugs, should get that this problem is a big deal.

See: Boom in tiny bedbugs is causing big trouble.

1 Jay May 17, 2009 at 12:25 am

I was a victim of the great bed bug infestation of San Francisco in 2004.

Due to the high rent prices that exist in SF and my complete exhaustion of living with insane roommates I moved into a residential hotel. I actually had a double room and had set it up really nifty. I had DSL, Satellite TV, a rather large mini fridge, an industrial microwave oven. It was the best way to live in the expensive North Beach part of SF.

Then the bed bugs came.

I don’t remember exactly how I first figured it out (I attribute that to PTSD).
I reported it to the front desk who had an unusually un empathetic response (slumlords). I was told to go to a hardware store and buy some spray product until exterminators arrived.

Well this went over like a lead balloon with me. Being that these little beasts looked like ticks I thought sleeping with INSECT REPELLENT might help. And I was trying to sleep with all the LIGHTS ON because I knew these worthless creatures didn’t like lights.


My room was “treated” by exterminators. That helped for about 24 hours then the little scum came out of their hiding places only to get into my chairs, climb on the walls, etc etc IT WAS INFURIATING.

I finally HAD MY FILL. I was renting a room in a non infected place down the block so I hadn’t paid my rent in the “Beg Bug Hotel” in about 2 weeks. When the guy in charge of the place finally came knocking on my door wondering why I hadn’t paid I WENT BALLISTIC I CHEWED THIS JERK OUT 67 DIFFERENT WAYS AND SLAMMED THE DOOR IN HIS FACE SO HARD IT CRACKED THE PAINT AROUND THE MOLDINGS.

I THEN felt NOTHING but a desire for REVENGE. Since these places don’t require you to sign a lease, when I was packing up to move I TRASHED THE PLACE – I WAS HURLING GLASS HEINEKEN BOTTLES AGAINST THE WALLS and just went apes**t.

I could write a book about this and I could probably qualify as a really GOOD bed bug exterminator but I don’t EVER want to see any of these USELESS insects again in MY LIFE.

I wear my hair rather long and I STILL JUMP when one drops on my leg because I think it’s a F$#king BED BUG.

2 nobugsonme May 18, 2009 at 1:50 am

I understand, Jay.

And we have heard of other tenants from San Francisco’s residential hotels.

We have heard some good stuff is being done in San Francisco, but clearly, many landlords and hotel managers are letting residents suffer.

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