Bed bugs halt mail service to Detroit public housing building

by nobugsonme on September 2, 2010 · 5 comments

in bed bugs, bed bugs and the elderly, bed bugs in public housing, detroit, michigan

A Detroit mail carrier stopped delivering to a 143-unit Warren West Apartments due to the building’s bed bug problem.

Unfortunately, it happened at the time in the month when many of the building’s residents were supposed to get their social security checks.

According to the Detroit News:

Ed Moore, spokesman for U.S. Postal Service Detroit District, said the mail carrier got spooked when she saw exterminators ‘dressed in full Hazmat gear.’

‘When the carrier delivered there last week, the exterminators asked her why she was in the building, and said she couldn’t be there because of the bedbugs,’ Moore said. ‘At that time, the mail was temporarily suspended. We won’t put our carriers in harm’s way.’

Residents said they were never told delivery had been halted until they called the post office and were informed the only way they could get their mail was to travel to the Livernois Branch, about two miles south.

I can understand a USPS carrier walking out when told to leave by a pest control firm, as sounds like it was the case here.

However, that doesn’t explain why deliveries were not resumed the next day, or why there was no communication with the building’s managers or residents about the suspension of service.

Eugene Jones of the Detroit Housing Commission (which runs the building) noted in the article that the upscale Riverfront Apartments in downtown Detroit are also battling bed bugs, but did not miss any mail deliveries:

“It’s interesting that the mail never stopped getting delivered to the Riverfront Apartments, but they won’t deliver it to the public housing apartments,” said Jones of the Housing Commission. “What’s wrong with this picture? I’m going to get to the bottom of this. These people need their mail, and I’m going to get it for them as quickly as possible.”

In this case, the USPS is arranging to have a truck deliver mail to the outside of the building.

However, the USPS should realize that bed bugs are a common problem, and its carriers are likely going into infested buildings all day long without realizing it.

Bed bugs do spread and people who may encounter them during the workday should take reasonable precautions to avoid bringing them home, whether or not they are aware of an infestation or not.

There’s no need to panic, however, and no need to react as if the building harbors Hanta virus or Bubonic plague.

Update (9/3):

UPI reports that service was resuming today (Friday).

1 CarpathianPeasant September 2, 2010 at 5:51 pm

However, it’s only a matter of time before deliveries of all sorts will be curtailed.

If a mail carrier only has to go to a collection of boxes near the door, that’s not so bad; but, they’re also supposed to trek through buildings delivering packages to the door.

2 Carlos September 3, 2010 at 1:14 pm

So the poor can’t get their SS money, but the rich can get their mail on time?
It’s so much the case that bedbug stories tend to revolve around the rich and famous…
As to the last comment about it not being the Plague, well, guess what, bebugs carry Plague…it is not known that they have transmitted this to humans, but not impossible either, and cannot be foolishly dismissed. Bedbugs were active in Europe at the time of the Plague…

3 nobugsonme September 3, 2010 at 1:36 pm


I am not discounting the very real health effects of bed bugs which currently exist, or those which may develop in the future (for example, if bed bugs become vectors for disease, a situation which has not come to light yet).

However, it is important that people do not panic. The fact is as I said above, “there’s no need to react as if the building harbors Hanta virus or Bubonic plague.”

Like you, I think these residents should be getting their mail deliveries. If people wrongly think they’re going to get the plague by setting foot inside this building, the consequences are just what you see here: panic and avoidance, rather than reasonable precautions.

4 nobugsonme September 3, 2010 at 1:39 pm

Hi Carpathian,

Unfortunately, people whose work makes them especially at risk for bed bugs (social workers and home health aides come to mind in particular) need to take precations to avoid bringing bed bugs home. (One of our travel faqs refers to avoiding bringing bed bugs home from others’ homes:

It may be that mail carriers, repair people, maids, and others who work in homes or buildings in various capacities may need to consider taking precautions too. Curtailing service is not practical and is not necessary in most cases if people become aware of the risk and take precautions.

5 nobugsonme September 3, 2010 at 11:35 pm

Update (9/3):

UPI reports that service was resuming today (Friday).

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