Cincinnati city/county combined bed bug task force drafts bed bug plan, not a moment too soon

by nobugsonme on March 28, 2008 · 12 comments

in bed bug task force, bed bugs, cincinnati, Hamilton County, kentucky, ohio

Rich Jaffe reported today for Local 12 in Cincinnati that the combined city/county bed bug task force (Greater Cincinnati in Ohio, and Hamilton County, Kentucky Ohio) has released a draft report of their plan to combat bed bugs. Jaffe also reports on one Silverton, Ohio building that is infested with bed bugs, and one tenant, who moved to flee an infestation (generally not a good idea).

Jessica Burton, who fled an infested apartment, said:

“They’re definitely in our couches, underneath the carpets, definitely in the bed, all over the bed. I was doing dishes one night, seen a couple crawling across the counter, thought it was wood tick.”  

Jessica Burton says she fled her apartment here two weeks ago because it was so filled with bugs, leaving behind virtually everything. Her baby was covered with bites. Moving in last October, Burton says no one told her the apartment had been infested previously. Downstairs from her apartment, we found the bugs everywhere.

Rich Jaffe: “The owners of this building tell me they have dealt with the bed bug problem before and they are continuing to try and get a handle on it, but it’s really tough. They even have an exterminator headed over here on Saturday.”

Unfortunately, bed bug infestations are very difficult to fight.  But they can be treated.  With such a situation, the answer will not be simple, and will need to involve landlords, tenants (including all neighbors), and professional pest control operators.  Having a city/county bed bug task force is important because the bed bug problem needs to be considered and dealt with outside of individual apartments being sprayed.  Or it simply is never going to go away. 

To their credit, local officials are very concerned about the current bed bug crisis in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky — as well as with the future projected “growth” of the bed bug problem:

In this draft report, city and county experts say, complaints about bed bugs could easily quadruple in the near future. If so, costs could reach one million dollars, locally. Problems include chemical resistant bugs and how to fund the task force attack. But for Jessica Burton, the question is where does she go from here.  

“To me, I was proud of this. I woke up every day like I’m on top of the world, pay my bills by myself, don’t need to rely on anybody, then all of a sudden, you’re like …. Wow… That’s what I feel like, wow… Like I’m walking in another world every day cause we don’t have a clue how we’re going to redo it.”

We hear stories like this every day in the Bedbugger forums — stories of people, like Jessica Burton, who are seriously knocked off-kilter by the losses incurred in treating (or in this case fleeing) a bed bug infestation.  

Cincinnati still has a lot of work to do.  But they have already held meetings for residents, declared war on bed bugs, implemented a bed bug hotline, implemented a system for picking up infested furniture, and changed their laws to class bed bugs as “vermin” (local laws about pests did not name bed bugs among pests it was against the law to harbor).   They’ve held multiple meetings of local officials, worked together with their counterparts in adjacent localities; officials in Ohio, Kentucky, and Indiana also held a tri-state meeting about bed bugs.  

The Cincinnati Health Department’s website features bed bugs on the main page, with links to both a 2-minute public service announcement on bed bugs (download), and a 27-minute video (misleadingly dubbed an “infomercial” in the credits) on bed bugs from Tom Hooper, a Registered Sanitarian (!) from the Cincinnati Health Department (download).  

The latter is much more informative, and (in my opinion) contains better quality information. It begins with an explanation of why people need to be worried about bed bugs (citing, among other cases, the Winnipeg 73-unit building that had been infested and treated for three years straight).  It also goes through bed bug habits, identification (including photos of German cockroach nymphs and dog ticks, which people may mistake for bed bugs), inspection, prep, and treatment.  

I don’t agree with absolutely everything in the video, for example, I’ve learned to tell people to get a professional’s or housing inspector’s inspection before they attempt to thoroughly clean and/or declutter their homes. Nothing should be moved until a professional is consulted. Also, many viewers will be mislead by the photos provided of the inspection process, since many — if not most –people will not see such glaring evidence. The information on treatment is also necessarily limited by time constraints, and sometimes a little information is a dangerous thing. I’d like to see more emphasis on professional treatment.

Despite these beefs, and the fact that it may not be the most exciting film ever shot, the bottom line is that landlords, homeowners, institutional managers, and tenants all need to be aware of this kind of information, and I applaud Cincinnati for providing it, prominently, on their Health Dept. website. I assume it is also being shown on television as PSAs generally are, but maybe someone local can confirm this.  

Interestingly, the two videos’ credits tell us they were produced by the Cincinnati STD/HIV Training Center, suggesting that resources previously used to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS are being employed to help stop the spread of bed bugs.   This use of resources implies that bed bugs are being taken seriously as a health problem.

Still, people like Jessica Burton are still experiencing the problem acutely — and it is seriously affecting their physical, mental, and financial well-being.  Bring on the bed bug plan, Cincinnati and Hamilton County! 

1 Rich September 15, 2008 at 1:02 am

After attending the Cincinnati bed bug conference, the only thing that I observed Cincinnati did was to shift the burden of the cost of treatment to the landlord…a matter that may soon be challenged. The other information “shared” at the conference, other than the info provided by Dr. Jones, was lacking in substance. My impression was that the City was more interrested in finding an escape route rather than offering residents a real solution. To quote one of our presidential nominees, “Only words…only words”.

2 Helpless September 17, 2008 at 11:31 pm

I don’t agree with that either. This is a city wide issue and aparently HAS BEEN since 2007. I found a link to some PDF document that no longer exists, perhaps they were helping people financially with the bugs? This is the city’s problem more than the landlords. If they are all over the place then it is not the landlords fault or problem. This may not be from the landlord’s neglect to inspect an apartment. The city needs to do something about it, maybe even the federal government. These things are no joke.

If landlords in apartment buildings, or just a landlord with a small duplex has to keep exterminating over and over and over again, and the tenants have to buy new furniture because of something the city won’t take care of, then we are ALL going to hit rock bottom financially. The longer they take to truly get rid of these things, the more they are spreading. Not to mention, if someone has a landlord that isn’t the most dependable, then the chance of them spreading is even greater.

Is there a way to start a petition stating that this is the city’s problem and not the landlord’s?

BTW~I’m not a landlord. I’m just a tenant. And while I want them to exterminate, I still don’t think it’s their fault. Anyone could have brought them in.

3 Rebecca Reczek September 18, 2008 at 9:05 pm

Regarding New York’s bed bug issue:

My name is Rebecca, and I am reaching out to you in hopes that our team can help your community. Discovery Channel is searching for public/private facilities that may be victims of any type of vermin infestation – of small or epic proportions. We are in our second season of Verminators, and our team of experts is looking to continue eliminating issues of infestation across the country.

Our focus is to help organizations and venues like yours, by volunteering our services. This show does NOT focus on exploiting a venue or staff, its ONLY intention is to explore the source of the infestation and eradicate it. Although, if there is a heartfelt story that the public or staff would like to share, openly or anonymously, then we’d obviously love to hear it!

If your facility needs our help, or if you know of any structures (houses, apartment complexes, health clinics, daycare centers, ports of call, etc.) that are victims of infestations, please contact me at 818.321.4756 or email me at

To see episodes of Discovery’s documentary-style show, Verminators, go to

Thank you for your attention!

Warmest regards,


Rebecca Reczek
Discovery Channel
Casting Director
Direct: 818.321.4756

4 nobugsonme September 19, 2008 at 12:38 am

I just reposted your comment as a post, to give it more attention.

5 Irma Larenas February 25, 2010 at 12:51 pm

Dear Rebecca: I am having a problem, I have bedbugs at home I don’t know how I get rid of them. I called pest control, stored my clothes, cleaned my house night and day and I can’t get rid of them.I can’t sleep at night. I am getting very nerveous; I had bits on my body I really need help! Please, if you can contact me to help me to get rid of this infectation I will appreciate it; thank you for attention.
Irma Larenas

6 nobugsonme February 25, 2010 at 1:23 pm

Hi Irma,

Rebecca left her comment in September 2008 and is unlikely to be reading this. You may try to email her directly at the email listed.

If you have been treated by a pest control pro (as it sounds like you have), keep in mind bed bugs typically take 3+ treatments to get rid of. If attached neighbors are infested, they will need treatment too. If your pest control operator came once, have them come again and repeat every two weeks until the problem is gone.

If you need support or have questions, please post to our forums where you will get more of a response:

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