Bed bugs hit Antigua’s Land Registry office; misinformation abounds

by nobugsonme on September 25, 2010 · 7 comments

in bed bugs, bed bugs in the workplace, government, public health

According to the Antigua Observer, bed bugs have been found in the island’s Land Registry office.

Caribbean_-_Antigua.png

However, not to worry: the six bed bugs found are assumed not to have bitten anyone.

Despite an infestation being found at the Land Registry, [Lionel Michael, Chief Environmental Health Officer of Antigua and Barbuda] said the insects had not affected any persons.

“We found about six in two chairs but they weren’t engorged, they didn’t feed on anybody, they didn’t bite anyone. You can see with the human eye that when they bite somebody — they become larger.”

In the case of any detection of the bugs, Michael advised persons not to overreact to and use natural remedies where possible.

Among the “natural remedies,” Michael apparently recommends hot water. While it is true that bed bugs can be killed on contact by boiling water, in most cases you need to kill bed bugs and eggs that you can’t find and spray directly, and in such cases, pesticides or other measures are necessary. Knowledge of how to use these safely and effectively is crucial.

As for the idea that these six bed bugs had not bitten anyone in the office, it is true that non-engorged bed bugs may not have fed very recently. However, each bed bug will feed at least once a week or so.

Those six bed bugs were not just hanging out in those chairs enjoying the Land Registry office. They were waiting for their next meal. They may have been there for some time, and they have likely bitten the people who sit in those chairs.

I also want to draw your attention to this part of the article:

Meanwhile the Chief Health Inspector said the report at the land registry was not the first one.

“Before the bedbug story broke I had a report from a lady who informed me she had bedbugs but I didn’t go look at it at the time because I was away.

“She is very much aware of what bedbugs look like, and those of us born in 50s and 60s we still recognise bedbugs but those born after won’t. I did advise her some of the things she could do and she would have used aggressive radical measures and gotten rid of them,” Michael said.

It’s important to take note of statements like this, because the media in North America often implies that bed bugs are the norm “in other countries” where they’re simply “tolerated”.

I just don’t see any evidence of that. I do see a lot of evidence that people all over the world are as surprised as those in North America that bed bugs have “sprung back,” and just as horrified by their presence and recent spread.

Map image credit: image in the public domain, edited by M. Minderhoud.

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1 O Buggery September 25, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Hmmm… …the Land Registry Office.

So the next Antiguan politico to declare “We have paind for this land with our blood,” just might be speaking literally. 🙂

2 O Buggery September 25, 2010 at 11:02 pm

(Rats. I meant “We have *paid* for this land with our blood.)

3 nobugsonme September 26, 2010 at 6:55 pm

Good one, O Buggery!

4 Ci Lecto September 26, 2010 at 10:35 pm

What in Mr. Michael’s words gives you the impression that he understands the situation and takes it seriously?

5 nobugsonme September 27, 2010 at 2:08 am

I don’t think I have that impression. Do you?

(And why would he, those bed bugs are not biting, Ci. They’re just chilling out. Waiting to register some land, perhaps!)

6 Cimicifuga October 1, 2010 at 11:43 pm

Actually, there is a surprising amount of “tolerance” of bedbugs by some people. It depends on how people have been brought up and what other hardships they face in their lives.

Think of other animals that show up in homes, hotels, offices, etc. In tropical countries, geckos are generally considered at least harmless if not helpful, but people who’ve never seen geckos before, when vacationing in tropical countries, are sometimes horrified by the sight of lizards running around in their hotel rooms (and leaving droppings everywhere), and they can’t understand why the hotel staff don’t care.

Similarly, “There are bedbugs in your room? So what? They’re everywhere!” isn’t something you would expect to hear from hotel staff in a western country, but it’s a different story in a 3rd world country, even in a luxury hotel.

There are of course cultural differences affecting attitudes to other bedbug issues, like the responsibilities of tenants vs. those of landlords, tendency to blame others vs. willingness to lose face by accepting blame, etc.

7 nobugsonme October 2, 2010 at 12:41 am

Cimicifuga,

I often hear westerners stating that bed bugs are expected, and everywhere, and tolerated in the “3rd world,” but this does not match what we hear from people in the countries you’re referring to.

I don’t doubt there may be instances where this is true, but mostly, I hear generalizations.

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