Dacorum Borough Council: bed bugs not a public health problem, so we’re no longer offering free bed bug treatment to needy residents

by nobugsonme on April 6, 2009 · 6 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs and health, england, government, london, money, pest control, public health, united kingdom

Dacorum Borough Council used to provide free treatment for bed bugs to householders who could not afford it.  Alas, no longer.

One local resident, Alex Francis, was concerned:

“If there are people with bed bugs or mites who can’t afford to have them treated privately, will they just be living in those conditions, whereas before they could have them treated?” he said.

Well put.

It is understandable that the council is trying to save money at this time, and since bed bug cases are growing everywhere, the borough’s cost of providing treatment is likely to get bigger and bigger.

The move was included in cuts of £2.8million agreed by the council as part of its budget in February.


Cutting the pest control service will save £84,000.

John Clarke, head of public protection at the council, advised residents with problems to use a private contractor.

This does not help people who cannot afford treatment.

Interestingly, the council will continue to treat for rats:

“From April 1 the council only offers a free rat treatment service for domestic premises, as they are a danger to public health,” he said.

(Emphasis mine.)

While it is true that bed bugs are not currently known to spread disease (as rats most decidedly do), they are nonetheless a public health problem.

I fear that this loss of service will mean many in the borough are forced to live with this problem because they cannot afford proper treatment to get rid of bed bugs.

And here’s a reminder to the people of Hemel Hempstead:  if your neighbors have bed bugs, you have bed bugs.

When it comes to bed bug treatment, it really is best for everyone if no one is left behind.

via Pest control cuts start to bite – Hemelhempstead Today.

1 BugBoy911 April 6, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Only if some of you people who say that “BedBug Infestations are not a Public Health Problem,” had bedbugs you would only then get to experience the health sucking, stress/psychological/physical damage that these Parasites can create. If you don’t consider OCD, Sleep Disorder, PTSD, Severe Itch and Scarring, Depression, Suicide, contagious to others not on the top of the list of Health Concerns, then what are health concerns!? Oh and high blood pressure… You people should only be so lucky to wake up with 20 bites all throughout your body, then paying a large amount of your savings to kill them, only to realize that your PCO’s are scamming you and not d oing their job, and then they blame it on you like its something your doing! Soon it will be everywhere and by that time it will be too late… 21st BedBug Century!!

2 parakeets April 7, 2009 at 1:48 pm

If bedbugs are not a health problem, then the Council members who voted in this prejudicial law should simply and readily agree to stay overnight in one of these infested residences just to prove to everyone that there is absolutely no health problem whatsoever! One night–that’s all it would take.

3 nobugsonme April 7, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Good point, Parakeets.

Though I think the full health effects are better felt when people live with bed bugs for months and months during treatment. I’d probably ask people who doubted bed bugs were a health problem to live in infested properties for 6 months. 🙂

4 mela April 24, 2009 at 9:54 pm

I work in a public school in queens and their are bed bugs in our school. We finally are bagging our stuff. But the problem will not go away if the child’s parents don’t do nothing about this I have collected over 15 bed bugs and now wait the weather is getting warmer. I don’t thinks is ever going to go away if they don’t take care of it at home. This is so stressful .

5 nobugsonme April 25, 2009 at 12:20 am

HI mela,

Unfortunately, bed bugs are hard to detect and hard to treat.

Your students’ families may not know they have bed bugs at home, especially at first. They are hard to find and not everyone reacts to bed bug bites. Once people do realize they have them, infestations may be quite serious, and neighbors may also be infested.

If your students’ parents are renting, in NYC, it is generally the landlord’s responsibility to treat. This can lead to delays– parents must detect bed bugs, complain to landlord, convince landlord to treat, in some cases contact the city and wait for inspectors to come, inspect, declare a housing violation, and force landlords to treat. And then the landlord’s PCO must undertake treatment, which can take 3 or more visits spaced 2 weeks apart. Some will not follow up, either because they do not think there are bed bugs, or because parents don’t insist, and so infestations may persist.

Other PCOs may not know how to get rid of bed bugs. And landlords may not authorize and pay them to inspect neighbors’ apartments and treat them if evidence of bed bugs is found. In some cases, entire buildings become infested as small cases are mismanaged and spread.

I say all this because the matter of getting students’ homes to be bed bug-free is really a very difficult process. It is not necessarily the parents’ fault, since getting rid of bed bugs in a NYC rental involves cooperation between landlords, tenants, and pest control operators. In the best scenario, it is expensive and time-consuming. In the worst scenario, it may take forever.

You are absolutely right that students’ homes must be thoroughly and quickly treated (and remember — teachers and staff may also be the source of bed bugs). I believe the city must do more to educate parents and teachers/staff about bed bugs, how to avoid spreading them, and how to get help. The city needs to do more to help tenants. (Many people who do call 311 because landlords are not fixing the problem do not even get an inspector to come. We’re told that NYCHPD currently cannot manage all of its requests for bed bug inspections.)

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