S.F.’s bedbug battle a war without end

by nobugsonme on May 3, 2009

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, california, san francisco

A new article by C.W. Nevius in the San Francisco Chronicle considers the difficulty of eradicating bed bugs from local apartments and hotel rooms, and then need for alternative, more effective methods in the city’s never-ending battle against bed bugs.

[Dr. Johnson Ojo of the San Francisco Department of Public Health] has put together a citywide policy that covers all the basic steps: Hotel managers who learn of an infestation must immediately set up a pest-control spraying, and residents are encouraged to follow specific instruction on washing clothing and showering with hot water.

Yet many who deal with the problem regularly think that current methods are no more than stopgap measures. Faced with a growing epidemic, the city needs to start thinking beyond the idea of squirting insect spray and hoping for the best.

“I feel like there has not been enough research on alternative methods,” said Jeff Buckley, director of the Central City Single Room Occupancy Collaborative, which works with 5,000 to 7,000 people each year who live in supportive housing. “I know for a fact that one hotel in the Tenderloin has had 14 sprays in the last two months.”

That’s not necessarily because the hotel is doing a poor job of attacking the pests. Bedbugs are everywhere, particularly in supportive housing. But it is an example of the scale of the problem and how hard it is to solve. Consider, each of those 14 treatments is actually three consecutive sprayings per room, two weeks apart.

And the bedbugs keep coming back.

“In terms of nonroutine maintenance, bedbugs are at the top of our list,” said Richard Heasley, executive director of Conard House, which provides supportive housing in 525 units for clients with chronic mental illness. “It is the single most frustrating problem we have to deal with.”

The article suggests that thermal treatment offers one possibility for effective, one-shot treatments, but it is expensive, and would be hard to implement city-wide.  I’d love to see San Francisco take a stab at that.

See S.F.’s bedbug battle a war without end.


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