Entire Kansas City high-rise gets thermal treatment for bed bugs

by nobugsonme on September 9, 2009 · 7 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, landlords and tenants, thermal treatment

All of the residents of Kansas City, Missouri’s Plaza Towers apartments are being evacuated for two nights so that the entire 81-unit high-rise can be treated using ThermaPureHeat’s thermal methods.

Residents told KMBC reporters they had as little as six days’ notice before evacuating and they were understandably frustrated by this.

On the other hand, many tenants with bed bugs would give anything to have their landlords treat the entire building using thermal methods –which, done properly, solve the bed bug problem in one treatment.

The building has had bed bugs for “about 18 months.”

Tenants were given free hotel rooms with breakfast and drink vouchers for the two nights they had to evacuate their homes.

Thermal treatment can get rid of bed bugs in one go, but what thermal methods can’t do is prevent bed bugs from being reintroduced into the structure — the day tenants return, or weeks or months later.

Everyone who has contact with the building must be educated and take steps to avoid such a scenario.  And it isn’t easy.

We can only hope tenants and employees were thoroughly educated about:

  • what they should take with them (if anything) while the building is being treated, and how these items should be treated to be ensured to be free of bed bugs;
  • how to avoid bringing bed bugs to a hotel (or any other place they would be staying — relative’s home, friend’s home, employee’s home), and how to avoid picking bed bugs up from those same places;
  • the possibility that bed bugs came to the building via a tenant’s or employee’s friend’s or relative’s home, or a school or workplace — even if no one else was aware of a problem there;
  • the dangers of taking in secondhand items, which may also have brought the problem in.

In the KMBC video linked above, it was disturbing to see a tenant load an open cloth bag of clothing and a computer into his car, as he prepared to evacuate for treatment.  Bed bugs could potentially be carried in these items — not just to a car or hotel, but back into the building after treatment.

Ultimately, a building like this needs an education program (starting with the above information), as well as an ongoing plan for inspections and prevention.

Dusting and sealing cracks and crevices between units and regular professional inspections may go some way towards preventing future bed bug problems.

Prompt, aggressive treatment (and extensive inspections) at the first sign of future bed bug bites or bed bug sightings may help avoid the need to treat the whole building again.

And at $65,000, that would be a worthwhile goal.

1 nobugsonme September 9, 2009 at 12:31 am

Note: the ThermaPureHeat provider doing this job appears to be Gold Seal of Indianapolis, Indiana — note to midwestern bedbuggers: this firm seems to be doing thermal treatments in Missouri as well as Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Ohio — possibly even further afield.

2 Elia Levin , President September 9, 2009 at 10:11 am

GOLD SEAL is the company of choice to perform this all inclusive bed bug treatment using the “THERMAPUREHEAT” process.
“Townhall “meetings have been conducted and daily meetings are ongoing. All residents were provided with written preparation instructions (which is considerable less than conventional insecticide treatments), literature regarding “everything you want to know about bed bugs – and more” which answers virtually all their questions as well as addressing all the issues mentioned in the article. In addition, we are working with a local pest management firm to perform conventional insecticide treatments using dessicant dusts, and long term residual, non-repellant sprays for long term protection.
All residents have been advised NOT to take anything with them other than recently washed/dried in hot temperature change of clothing. We are installing bed bug certified mattress/boxspring encasements, Climbup Insect Interceptors for ongoing monitoring/inspections and providing DDVP flystrips for those items that residents are concerned may be damaged by heat (even though almost all items will not be affected other than oil or acrylic paintings, etc which can be dusted or placed in plastic bags and sealed with a DDVP fly strip inserted).

We are doing our best to prevent residents from leaving with other personal items and have set up protocol to check their belongings as they return to prevent re-infestation.

If anyone has any other suggestions, we would be thrilled to hear them.

3 nobugsonme September 10, 2009 at 12:12 am

Hi Elia Levin,

The information and protocols you describe sound quite thorough, and I am glad to hear about them.

Thanks for sharing this information with us.

4 Bed bugs wrongly diagnosed September 11, 2009 at 10:42 am

Ok so I thought I had a sucess story, but this is a good story for several reasons. I’ll try to keep it short because it is SO long and been a hard battle. (briefs: wrongly diagnosed with scabies, dogs diagnosed with mange (dog scabies) ridding bed bugs and re-occuring 8 months later, freezing, and how long eggs could last after a move ) choppy sentences,-sorry- packing – no time!

My dog started scratching when we moved into an attic apartment in Newport RI. Scratching and itching all the time, then we thought we had caught it…the dreaded scabies. Bites, marks and symptoms almost the exact same as bed bug sites. 3 bites in a row, misdiagnosed for the scabie traveling in a burrow. Dog treated with Sulfer dioxides, pestisides, revolution, frontline…all 2-3 weeks apart from one other, 3 skin scrapings, never found scabies, but the itchng would not stop, so wWE fianlly went to the doctor….Permitherine, all over body 8 hours, wash off, no new bites while product was on, wait 2 weeks, more new bites, permitherine 15 hours, wash, all labels say one treatment should be sufficient, new bites a few days later, started spot treatment, started going crazy, started washing all clothes, vaccuming, cleaning, not letting people touch me so they could not contract these “scabies” which we didn’t even have.

Thought we were batteling scabies, became part of several blogs and other internet sources, who just could not get rid of these buggers. (Later I posted for them all to check for bedbugs because they had more similar symptoms to me and from the bite pictures I saw and 5 treatments later still not working for them!!!)

So we moved out. On the way I saw bugs on the bottom of the mattress (BEDBUGS!) smuched them, thought it was gross, and the apartment was dirty, and moved back to Maine. Did not know they were bed bugs, didn’t even know bed bugs were visible!

8 full months later we thought we were “scabies free”!!!! Before we left all dogs were treated with Advantix (do not use on cats). Advantix we found out later was 44% permitherine, and would kill their scabies, which obviously was the cause of giving the scabies back to us after we had been treated….lol…later found out the dogs had stopped scratching because it was making the bed bugs not bite them, (or bite and kill them).

Moved home to Maine Nov 1st, it’s pretty cold up here. 8 full months later had a baby. Had visitors, one who wouldn’t stop itching like we were way back. Told her she has scabies (which today we still don’t know if she has/had scabies or bed bugs or something else) got her treated. Baby started getting a rash on body. Brought to doctor, baby acne, treated, didn’t work, we started getting bit, ut-o, we got the scabies again! Treated, had to treat baby! Newborn baby! Rash getting worse, baby itching ,not sleeping……One morning woke up to a brown- red bug crossing my sheets!!!! GROSSSSSS!!!!! It was full of my blood, caught it in tape and looked up online and found out we had bed bugs:{

OK, so here I am with 15 favorties on my computer all about scabies which I never had. AND now I have to do it all over again with bed bugs. I was going crazy, and now have to again:((((
When we moved we had smooshed the bugs, 5-10 areas of bugs in clusters, from a mattress that was directly on the floor because the box spring would not fit upstairs. The only thing I can think of is that the eggs (which can last I think 100 days or more in temps around 60) did not hatch and that is why we were not bit until July when it started getting warmer. Or possibly had bugs that were semi-dormant. ——I have a lizard, and brought home his crickets (food), which froze in the car, they all went into that ‘auto-state’ where the legs were crossed and they looked dead, then brought them inside, few hours later they were totally normal and hoping around!!!!—-can happen to all insects.

We moved upstairs, on an air mattress, heard they can not climb up smooth plastic-not 100% sure, but no new bites, moving out of our house (not because of this) stuff in storage heard 2 full weeks of below freezing will kill eggs and all bugs…..haven’t decide what to do yet with everything else (all the baby stuff -bran new and can not put raid on it) Suggestions please? Throught about thermal truck (heat)-expensive… I am filling in all the cracks in the furniture with wood filler for less hiding places….found eggs in the holes that the screws would go in the bottom of the furnitures, so always check in there!!!! All eggs are white, does that mean they already hatched and are old? They have a tiny tiny hole at the end, it looks like an opening. The walls in the apt in Newport had over a 1/2 inch crack where the basebords should have been (very old house) always creeped me out!!! plus there were other bugs you could see in there!

Good luck to you all! I will write my success story after I am moved, stored, frozen, washed, dried, bagged, boxed, PRAYED and have defeted these little &*%$%#*!

5 Becky September 12, 2009 at 4:08 am

The local news report I saw on this said that the residents had been given rooms at the Q Hotel in Westport. This is a lovely place and I work just down the street from it and deal with many business travelers who stay there. I can’t help but wonder and hope that the personnel there were also prepared. Bedbugs can travel in the clothing that you’re wearing, the creases in your sneakers, the zipper of a purse or suitcase.

I would now be very hesitant to ever stay at the Q.

6 Elia Levin September 16, 2009 at 8:20 pm

All residents were asked to wash any clothes they were taking with them the day before treatment in the hottest water and dried in the hottest temperature, seal in plastic bags and asked to change clothes right before leaving their apartment and advised not to take anything else with them. Alhough we could not police all tenants 100%, we are certain that the majority of tenants were careful not to take possibly infested items with them (especially those who were aware that their apartment had bed bugs). In addition, the majority of tenants stayed with friends and relatives rather than at a hotel, and all tenants were required to check in with the office before being allowed to re-enter their apartnents post treatment so that management could check to make sure all returning items were placed in plastic bags with a ddvp fly strip. Considering the amount money being spent and the logistics of treating a 9 story apartment building, management was was very involved to help ensure that re-introduction of bed bugs was minimal. Also the vast majority of tenants were quite cooperative and have a personal interest NOT to reinfest the building. By the way, all tenants were back in their apartment the very next night after their apartment was treated, having only to spend 1 night away from home!! Kudos to the tenants, management and the team from GOLD SEAL for making this a very successful treatment!

7 nobugsonme September 17, 2009 at 12:06 am

Hi Elia,

100% cooperation is nearly impossible to achieve.

Becky is correct that people could have taken bed bugs to a hotel; that most tenants visited family members instead of the hotel does not lessen the need for them to be careful about moving bed bugs with them. In fact, relatives may be infested due to prior contact with tenants, and may not be aware yet.

None of this detracts from the quality of your company’s work, or the attempts you say you’ve made to educate tenants, or the majority of tenants’ desire to be 100% cooperative in getting rid of the problem; it’s just that we all know how easily bed bugs spread. Even if the majority are 100% on the ball, there are always risks.

I hope this treatment was successful, I hope tenants are able to avoid bringing bed bugs back in, and that the plans you’ve outlined for prevention and detection in future are successful in keeping the building bed bug free.

Bed bugs wrongly diagnosed,

Sadly yours is a common problem. I hope you will follow up when they’re gone (and I hope that’s soon!) Come to the Bedbugger Forums if you need support or want to swap stories.

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