Bed bugs in Greater Cincinnati
This is the first in a series of which point you to local information. Most of what we have so far is on Cincinnati and Hamilton County, though this page will also include Northern Kentucky and Southeastern Indiana. I welcome additional tips and links to be added; please comment below if you have any. Thanks!
Bed bugs are a big problem in the Greater Cincinnati area. The Spring 2008 Greater Cincinnati Health Survey conducted by The University of Cincinnati Institute for Policy Research found that 14.5% of Cincinnati residents have had bed bugs (that’s one in seven people, and that was the statistic in 2008 — the numbers are likely greater now).
Self-treatment is common in Cincinnati, which is likely helping bed bugs spread there. The Greater Cincinnati Health Survey also found that 31% of Cincinnati residents with bed bugs had used only an over-the-counter spray to treat their problem. (This is unlikely to solve a bed bug problem.)
Attempting to get rid of bed bugs with alcohol or OTC pesticides, local residents have set their homes on fire in Cincinnati, and in Hamilton County, where fourteen people were displaced after someone tried to treat bed bugs using alcohol-based pesticides while smoking.
In 2009, Ohio requested an emergency exemption request for pest professionals to be able to use the pesticide Propoxur to treat bed bugs (under certain controlled conditions). This was denied in June 2010, and again in January 2011.
In January 2008, there was a tri-state (Ohio/Kentucky/Indiana) meeting about bed bugs. Also in 2008, Cincinnati and Hamilton County formed a Joint Bed Bug Task Force. You can download their Strategic Plan at New York vs. Bed Bugs.
We try to include correct and up-to-date local information where possible. However, we cannot be responsible for the accuracy of information on this website. Please double check local laws and regulations to be sure information is correct and has not changed. We are not lawyers and cannot give legal advice. If you have questions about the law and how it applies to your case, please consult a lawyer.
Note: for Ohio residents, the Ohio Department of Health will provide identification services for samples sent in by Ohio residents. You can download this form or call ODH at (614) 752-1029 and press Option 1 for information.
The City of Cincinnati has a two-minute Public Service Announcement video produced by the CHD Environmental Division on their bed bug page. (Click here to download and view it.) It suggests homeowners are responsible for their own treatment, while tenants must notify their landlords and cooperate with treatment.
However, the Strategic Plan of the JBBTF says,
The laws that govern the actions of the Cincinnati Health Department include Board of Health Regulations 00053-9(D), 00053-9(E) and 00053-11(D), as well as the Neighborhood Quality of Life Code, CMC 1601-17 (Title XVI), and Ohio state law. The Board of Health and city municipal code regulations assign responsibility for abatement of vermin to both the owner/ manager and the occupant of an infested building. This means that the Health Department may not be able to enforce abatement orders against owner/managers of large apartment buildings without also enforcing abatement orders against the tenants.
In other words, landlords do not have to pay for treatment in Cincinnati.
And tenants can no longer get their units inspected by the city. Even though requests for bed bug inspections went from 70 in 2007 to 750 in 2008, Cincinnati stopped funding bed bug inspection program in the 2009 budget, and bed bug inspections ceased there in January 2009. (More on this here).
The Cincinnati PSA says that anyone can call the City of Cincinnati Customer Service at 513-591-6000 “for more information” about bed bugs, to receive informational materials, or to arrange pickup for infested furniture if needed. (Note: infested furniture can often be treated to remove bed bugs, and many experts recommend this instead of tossing it out.)
The PSA states that regulations may require that any insecticidal applications be made by a licensed pest control operator. (Note: I suspect this may relate to the number of units in the building, as appears to be the case in the case of Hamilton County; more below on the laws there.)
(The Cincinnati PSA is not bad but I am not sure about the suggestion that items should be washed on hot then placed in a hot dryer for only 5 minutes; we understand that Dr. Michael Potter’s research showed bed bugs were killed in dried clothing which was put in a hot dryer for 10 minutes; we do not know of research which shows 5 minutes is enough time in which to kill bed bugs in wet clothing. If someone has a reference, please share it in the comments below. More on how to kill bed bugs in clothing in this FAQ.)
Bedbugger stories about bed bugs in Cincinnati.
If you rent a home or apartment within Hamilton County (excluding cities of Cincinnati, Norwood, Sharonville or Springdale) and you think you have bed bugs, please contact the Hamilton County Public Health at (513) 946-7832. Sanitarians will work with your landlord to eliminate the problem.
(This map shows the service area for HCPH.)
The JBBTF STrategic Plan notes,
The laws that govern the actions of Hamilton County Public Health are County code PHESR 1-67, Section 4.16, as well as Ohio state law. PHESR 1-67 allows citation of owners for abatement of vermin.
Renee Corea of New York vs. Bed Bugs interviewed Jeremy Hessel of HCPH and this provides additional insight on the laws and resources there,
Under Ohio Department of Agriculture pesticide rules, an owner of a building of three units or less is allowed to treat the building without an applicator license. Hessel considers this a significant challenge in Hamilton County. Nonetheless, building owners have started to come round to the idea of hiring competent pest management professionals to service bed bug complaints in their properties, and they’re starting to understand what is required for eradication.
Who pays for treatments in Hamilton County? When tenants were being charged for bed bug treatments, Hessel said, Hamilton County consulted Legal Aid attorneys on their behalf. Unless the landlord could prove that the tenant “brought them in” or that unreasonable destruction was caused by the tenant, the landlord was responsible.
Corea also cites Hessel encouraging homeowners to call HCPH for advice and guidance on bed bugs, saying:
We’ll try to give as much guidance as possible, and sometimes we even go to their homes.
You can contact HCPH here.
Hamilton County residents can go here to file a Public Nuisance Complaint about bed bugs in public places or rental homes. You can file a complaint anonymously, but including your name, and street or email address means you can receive an update on the outcome of the investigation.
Bedbugger stories about bed bugs in Hamilton County.
Bed bugs have hit many Northern Kentucky homes, as well as other places as diverse as the IRS offices in Covington (in 2008), the Northern Kentucky University dorms, and the Burlington Library (note: Boone Co. libraries are now taking steps to avoid further problems).
It suggests that for more information about bed bugs, you can call the Northern Kentucky Health Department’s Environmental Health and Safety office at 859.341.4151. Since we do not yet have information on laws regarding who pays for bed bug treatment in rented homes in the area, we suggest you also direct such questions to the Health Department, or ask them who to consult. (Please send us links to relevant information if you find it.)
Bedbugger stories about bed bugs in Northern Kentucky.
(You can view additional bed bug fact sheets, such as those from OSU and the U of Kentucky, as well as other resources such as manuals about bed bugs and treatment options — look under “Comprehensive Guides” — in our Resources page.)
Last updated 1/25/2011