This is an interesting bed bug story from First Coast News in Jacksonville, Florida.
First, it documents another case of someone being denied necessary medical treatment due to an acute bed bug infestation.
Second, it represents a case where people obviously lived with bed bugs until they became unbearable, and only got treatment when forced to do so.
And finally, there is an instance of misinformation being provided by a “bed bug specialist” in the news media.
The story concerns a Jacksonville family who have bedbugs in their home:
The family told First Coast News they have had this problem for months, and now it has become unbearable.
“It is very bad. It is probably the worst home invader that I know of,” said Dave, who lives in the home. “They hide in places you can’t see and they get in your clothes, and disrupt your life. You lay down at night and you’re scratching, you become an insomniac,” he added.
Despite having bed bugs “for months” and the situation becoming “unbearable,” the family only got treatment after Dave’s mother-in-law (who shares the home) was refused dialysis treatment because there were bed bugs on her clothing.
The clinic told her she could not be given dialysis until the bedbugs were gone and the clinic called a pest control firm, who have subsequently treated the home with steam and residual pesticides.
The question arises: if bed bugs in the home were so prevalent that the residents were uncomfortable, and that multiple bugs could be found hitchhiking on one of the residents, why was treatment not sought earlier?
Many people do not get prompt treatment because of the costs, and still others because they do not know a problem exists. This problem seems to be more common among the elderly — who are both more likely to be living on fixed incomes, and according to recent research, less likely to react to bed bug bites than people under 65.
Unfortunately, pest management professional Kyle Carson of Turner Pest Control (referred to as a “bed bug specialist” in the segment) makes an unfortunate mistake.
Ironically, in an attempt to correct misconceptions about bed bugs, Carson says that “Bed bugs don’t crawl, they don’t jump, or anything like that,” and this is obviously not accurate.
(Note: the article on the First Coast News website transcribes this quote incorrectly as “Bed bugs don’t jump they don’t crawl on you,” but unfortunately, they retain the inaccurate information.)
While they do not jump, they certainly do crawl and can crawl onto a person or into their possessions, hitchhiking to the next location.
I suspect Carson is well familiar with this fact, since the home of Dave and his mother-in-law was only treated after bedbugs obviously crawled onto the woman (or into her possessions) and were transported to the dialysis clinic.
A slip of the tongue can happen to anyone. However, the fact that this misinformation was retained in the story and broadcast is a reminder of how important it is that journalists and those interviewed by them are cautious in how they represent the facts about this pest.
Remember, people viewing the segment are probably getting all of their bed bug education (if they get any at all) from news reports.
(Note: if the embedded video does not load, you can watch it on the First Coast News site.)