Bed bugs invade New York City Department of Health offices

by nobugsonme on September 25, 2009 · 4 comments

in bed bug epidemic, bed bugs, bed bugs in the workplace, new york city, spread of bed bugs

The New York Post reports that New York City’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene workers are being bitten by bed bugs.

Workers in the department’s tuberculosis-prevention unit complain that the painful pests have invaded their offices on the eighth floor of 346 Broadway for the second time.

“People are really upset,” one worker said, adding that while it was never made public, a bedbug colony took up residence on the same site two years ago.

“They told us we were crazy,” the worker said, referring to higher-ups. “I said, ‘I know what I saw. I’m not crazy.’ ”

Officials confirmed that bedbugs were found in the TB unit in 2007 and again within the last few days. In both cases, exterminators were called in.

“It’s fairly common to have a couple of bedbugs brought in by an individual,” said department spokeswoman Jessica Scaperotti. “It’s not an infestation.”

The “condition” of bed bugs in the tuberculosis-prevention unit of the NYC DOHMH suggests that the DOHMH also needs a “bed bug prevention unit.”  Not for their building, but for the city.

Bed bugs don’t kill you like TB will (at least not in most cases) but they certainly are a quickly-spreading parasite which messes with one’s “mental hygiene” big time.

NY Magazine’s Daily Intel also questions the “it’s not an infestation” spin from John Jay and Department of Health, reminding me that “I’m not crazy” either.

1 parakeets September 25, 2009 at 2:29 pm

People are always saying bed bugs are “not a health problem.” Well, if bed bugs are in the Department of Health, they finally ARE a health problem!

If “it’s fairly common to have a couple of bedbugs brought in by an individual–It’s not an infestation” as department spokeswoman Jessica Scaperotti says …. then, wow, what are they doing so they are so sure that bedbugs brought in by individuals are NOT becoming infestations? (And, duh, hasn’t that happened twice already?) Maybe they should tell OSHA how they are avoiding bedbug infestations when individuals bring them in. We’d all like to know and who can better advise us than the Department of Health!

Notice the spin where the article subtly hints that it’s the lower level workers who are upset by this in the quote: “They told us we were crazy,” the worker said, referring to higher-ups. “I said, ‘I know what I saw. I’m not crazy.’ ” The media keeps blaming or categorizing the bed bug victim in certain ways that might make certain other groups feel they are somewhat immune or safe from getting bed bugs. Where is the warning that we can all get bedbugs, even the “higher ups”?

I’d like to tell Ms. Scarperotti that even though she is sure it isn’t an “infestation,” if individuals have brought bedbugs into where she works, she could be at risk for bringing bedbugs home with her. Of course then it won’t be an “infestation” in her home/apartment/condo if she “brings a few bedbugs in” so I know she and her neighbors don’t have to worry that she works in an office with bedbugs. After all, it’s just a few bedbugs, not an infestation.

A few bedbugs? If you see a few bedbugs, you problably have many, many more hidden and even if it is only a “few bedbugs”–you can have 6000 in a few months.

2 bugbuster September 25, 2009 at 2:35 pm

A Department of Health representative came to our school last year when we were having a problem. After announcing that they’re not considered a “health” problem, she went on to display her ignorance by conveying all manner of incorrect information – which I had no compunction about correcting, in front of all assembled, at every turn.

Somehow, this doesn’t surprise me one bit.

3 nobugsonme September 25, 2009 at 3:11 pm

@Parakeets, you hit it home, as usual.

@bugbuster — Yikes!

Sounds like you had something similar to one of these “educational seminars,” though those were run by the Housing and Preservation Department.

We heard the bed bug seminar road show was taken to a number of courthouses.

Would be interested in your school if you could tell us.

4 Winston O. Buggy September 25, 2009 at 4:45 pm

Yes if they are at the health department in city speak they are a “health problem” but not a public health issue LOL. And bugbuster that is quite unfortunate, lets hope the BBAB will result in avoiding that type of misinformation issue in the future. I originally inspected the DOH TB unit in 07 and the source was one employee who had brought them in from home. They treated over the weekend and had the employee get the home treated. They also had to reduce the clutter condition around the employees cubicle as it had grown over the years. Inspection, early treatment of both sites and clutter reduction resolved the issue. I wonder if it is the same person, as it is the same unit. I still remember finding it ironic putting the taped samples in DOH envelopes.

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