Glasgow’s Evening Times reports that a woman was told by her doctor to flee her bed bug-infested rented flat in the city’s Govanhill neighborhood, and was as a result homeless due to bed bugs:
The woman, who asked not to be named, was bitten from head to foot by the parasites and sought medical attention.
Doctors told her to flee the flat which she rented from property firm GSL Lettings.
She said: “I was forced to leave my flat in Govanhill with only the clothes I stood up in when it became infested with bed bugs.
“I was accepted as homeless by the Hamish Allan homeless unit and remained in their care for eight months.
“This resulted in being in hostels in Hillhead and then in Govan for two months. Then I was moved to temporary accommodation for the homeless for six months.
Meanwhile, the landlord of the flat the woman fled is still trying to get back rent.
We don’t normally hear of doctors telling patients to flee their homes due to bed bugs. And it’s not just that doctor — another article from The Scotsman in November 2014 suggests a different Govanhill resident was told to evacuate by a pest management professional. Moving out seems to be a common response to the problem, and that isn’t good.
Bed bugs have been recognized as a problem in Govanhill for a while, and The Evening Times reports that Glasgow City Council has been trying to address bed bugs in the area:
Glasgow City Council has ordered a “block-by-block” deep clean of flats in Govanhill.
A dedicated team of five specialist bed bug busters are trying rid the area of the insects which feed on human blood.
A council spokesman said: “Work on existing cases is underway, ahead of the block-by-block treatment programme. Good progress is being made.”
Glasgow City Council provides free treatment for bed bugs, according to The Evening Times.
However, it may be that more help is needed. While it doesn’t address bed bugs specifically, this Evening Times video about Govanhill gives a sense of the living conditions in the area, which include overcrowding, neglected housing stock, and fly-tipping (illegal dumping of garbage):
(If you can’t see an embedded video above, you can click here to view the video on YouTube.)
I want to be clear, because there’s always some confusion:
- Clutter does not cause bed bugs
- Dirty homes don’t attract bed bugs
- Piles of garbage don’t attract bed bugs
- Anyone can get bed bugs– it doesn’t matter what your income is, your ethnicity, your national origin, etc.
That said, poverty and neglect are great friends to bed bugs.
In a highly-populated area such as this, with what appears to be a high turnover of residents, bed bugs are likely to be a problem. And when the housing is neglected, bed bugs are likely to thrive.
Some reading this will say, “Wow, I wish my city council provided free pest control services.” However, keep in mind the treatment provided for bed bugs needs to be swift and thorough in order to address the problem. It sounds like the five-person team trying to address bed bugs in Govanhill — both acute cases and block by block — may need reinforcements.
And it also sounds like the city needs to decide how to address serious cases. Because “moving out” appears to not be an uncommon response to a bad case of bed bugs (one endorsed by doctors and PCOs). And moving out can lead to more units becoming infested, among the other obvious problems for the resident (loss of belongings, angry landlords seeking rent, etc.)
Make no mistake: as long as anyone in Govanhill has bed bugs, they will continue to be spread to local shops, cafes, schools, workplaces, on public transportation, etc. both in this area and other parts of the city. And more people will continue to get bed bugs as the problem spreads both in Govanhill and further afield.