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Bedbugs and public transit

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  1. bedbuggery

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Sat Aug 1 2009 23:34:10
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    The topic I am hoping to address here is how likely picking up a bug from public transportation is and what can be done to reduce risk. I had an infestation (two actually that were spread to both places I was staying) and after eradicating them (or so I thought) I have just recently encountered tell tale bites (and also allergic reactions.)
    I was kind of hoping I would never have to deal with this but I am now considering the likely sources:
    1. The IGR that we sprayed had a residual effect of 7 mos and was sprayed 8 mos ago.
    2. I picked up a bug on a tram ride home from work.
    3. We just had record temperatures of 107 degrees which may have driven any bugs out of hiding and into the cool basement where I sleep.

    My concern follows from the fact that my city has a huge homeless population of BB infested vagrants, and they often ride the tram network downtown where it's free. They frequently carry w/ them backpacks, sleeping bags, and other personal belongings and it seems probable that they could shake a bug loose or that one may transition to a host that "smells a little sweeter" such as myself who tends to be plagued by insect feeders.

    Are there any likely accounts of this and.. what could possibly be done to treat busses, trains and trams that are repeatedly exposed to bugs?

  2. de-selftreat

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Sun Aug 2 2009 20:04:37
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    I suppose there's a small chance you caught your bbs from public transportation but it's highly unlikely. You've been in dozens of other public places, many more friendly to bed bugs, perhaps even a hotel or a friend's house, for instance. As you will read elsewhere both on and off this website, bed bugs don't care whether you're homeless or not: they are a great leveller. (And those less privileged than you deserve your kindness; it's a great thing they can travel for free on public transport.)

    You can just take taxis everywhere if you don't want to come into contact with the great unwashed, but if I were a bed bug I'd prefer a taxi for all its cosy corners.

  3. bedbuggery

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Mon Aug 3 2009 2:11:18
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    Ok, I just wrote a really solid response to this and then my connection died so here is the paraphrased version:

    there are an ungodly amount of homeless in Portland, OR (over 14,000) and they exchange sleeping locations while also carrying property onto trams such as backpacks and bedding material, sleep in close proximity, and regularly rotate through (confirmed) infested shelters. They often sleep w/ dogs as protection who would provide a silent meal for the bugs and they tend to shelter in the trams on rainy days (which we have a lot of.)

    To me it seems highly probable that could be a source for an infestation and I'm wondering if anyone has addressed this in cities similar to mine.

    I am not refuting that staying in an infested room is the easiest way to bring them home, but this can be a bit easier to avoid than using public transportation.

    And those less privileged than you deserve your kindness; it's a great thing they can travel for free on public transport.)

    I am of the opinion that our hospitality for the homeless (much like San Francisco) is one of the reasons the problem is so prevalent here (as other cities like to ship their homeless to those w/ better social programs) Maybe a byproduct of dealing w/ bedbugs would be a better social concern policy for them.

  4. persona-non-bugga

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Mon Aug 3 2009 5:50:04
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    I've read posts from a London PCO - David Cain - recommending people NOT sit while taking public transportation, because of the risk of picking up bedbugs. (I still sit on NYC's in-car plastic subway seats btw)

    Here in NYC, there was a lot of media attention for a couple of days on the report that bedbugs were spotted on wooden bench(es) in subway stations.

    One of the first pieces of historical ephemera I read about bedbugs was the case of several women from different households suffering from the same rashes on their legs. It turned out they took the same bus everyday, and bedbugs were in that bus.

    So yes, it's quite possible that bedbugs can occupy public transportation. Are they in the Portland trams? That I don't know. If they are in the tram, is that where you picked them up? Again, don't know. But I think it makes sense that you're concerned about this. It sounds like a legitimate risk.

  5. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Mon Aug 3 2009 7:29:05
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    Hi,

    Yes I was going to post to this thread and say that we have on many occasions confirmed the source of the infestation as being public transport.

    As for who is depositing them there in the first place I don't think you can blame a particular group of travelers. For example the last person I saw who was liable to be depositing them on public transport was a professional educated person commuting to work.

    With 60% of people being non bite responders those who are spreading the problem into public spaces that can result in what we term local source infestations could be anyone and are more likely to be someone who travels as part of a pattern or regular routine.

    I had a chat with an old school pest professional over the weekend who indicated that during a previous bloom in the problem the main public transport infected location was the back seat or seat over the engine.

    It is a difficult area because the solution is not to treat the public transport but to communicate the issue with people who will be accidentally depositing them in the first place. Here in lies the problem, the transport companies would need to comply with inspection and communication of the issue and at present they are too keep on threatening legal action when I mention the subject.

    I have done my part in warning on the issue but until they understand the nature of the problem we can do little to help them.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

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    In accordance with the AUP and FTC (legal requirements) I openly disclose my vested interest in Passive Monitors as the inventor and patent holder. Since 2009 they have become an integral part in how we resolve bed bug infestations. I also have a professional relationship with PackTite in that they distribute my product under their own branding. I do not however receive any financial remuneration for any comments I make about products.
  6. bedbuggery

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Mon Aug 3 2009 12:47:57
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    Thank you, this is very useful info. I happened to sit in a corner nook that struck me as a bit suspicious at the time. Maybe if someone did personal inspections and took photo's / captured an actual bug, then more pressure could be put on transit.

  7. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Mon Aug 3 2009 14:33:45
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    Hi,

    Good idea, the one slight problem is that taking pictures on UK public transport is illegal under the terrorism act and I would rather leave the water boarding to Doug.

    We have reported sightings and have case numbers but when we chase the issue up all we get is bluffing until the case number disappears one day.

    The problem is that it is clearly not every seat on every form of public transport, its just some people seem to be unlucky with their regular commutes.

    David

  8. DragonFlight

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Tue Aug 4 2009 9:06:08
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    Stand on the bus, don't sit. Only problem is if the bus is crowed, which is why I can't wait until I can get a car. Is if someones bag rubs against yours and the bad has bed bugs almost crawling out of it, one will attach onto you. I don't know how much harm one bed bug can do especially if it's female and not pregnant all that will happen is you'll either, never see it, kill it without knowing it was even there or knowing it's there. Or one day you'll see something crawling on you

  9. hoo2677

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    Posted 10 years ago
    Tue Aug 4 2009 9:24:02
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    bedbuggery, pm me re trimet and Portland.

  10. AlphaCrucisRadio

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Sun Mar 16 2014 23:08:03
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    bedbuggery - 4 years ago
    2. I picked up a bug on a tram ride home from work.

    There is an easy solution to that. Quit using public transit and start driving wherever you need to go. I now avoid public transportation like the plague after an infestation of bedbugs where I lived, which I think might have come from some neighbors who did use public transit.

    If you want to solve the problem, start driving to work, and quit using public transport. Problem solved.

    Besides, who in their right mind would use public transport when driving is much more convenient.

  11. ITortureBugs4Revenge

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Mar 17 2014 2:58:27
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    Public transit is unfortunately a good way to encounter bedbugs (As well as a variety of pathogenic microbes) due to the large numbers of vagrants, addicts and other low forms of humanity that use it. To me, public transport is like the stereotypical cheap motel...on wheels. As for taking a taxi as an alternative to the bus you may be avoiding the "2 legged vermin" by going that route, but the chances of bedbugs lurking in a taxi cab are just as good as they are on a bus. Of course many people have no choice but to use public transport for their daily commute, in which case the best thing is to just not think too much about bugs and don't let them fill your head with paranoia and anxiety.

    .....I am NOT an expert.....

    Any advice i give here is based solely on my own personal experiences in dealing with bedbugs & other household vermin.
  12. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Mar 17 2014 14:48:31
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    Mr. Cain advises standing. I bag items when I get home (change like when you were a kid) and packtite them. I have seen some sort of bug (A LOT OF BUGS) crawling all over a man and his laundry cart. You could see movement. I was standing by the rear door but everyone on the bus was talking about it.

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  13. ITortureBugs4Revenge

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Mar 17 2014 18:15:33
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    The problem is that in many cities standing is not allowed while the bus is moving.

  14. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Mon Mar 17 2014 18:32:03
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    Yep, I'm one of the last stops, so it's usually allowed in my city. I hang on for dear life! The Metro allows you to stand, too, which is nice.

  15. JustChecking

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 17:53:52
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    David wrote,

    ...the main public transport infected location was the back seat or seat over the engine.

    Can the engine be anywhere on the bus? Is it the vibrating part?

    JustChecking, not a therapist / bug pro
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  16. JustChecking

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 17:55:03
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    theyareoutthere - 23 hours ago  » 
    Yep, I'm one of the last stops, so it's usually allowed in my city. I hang on for dear life! The Metro allows you to stand, too, which is nice.

    Lucky you, TAOT.

  17. ITortureBugs4Revenge

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 18:23:49
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    Even if you are lucky enough to live in a city where standing is allowed on the bus you still have the issue concerning any belongings you may have with you, which is fine if all you have is a backpack or gym bag you can just keep over your shoulders while you stand there, but in the case of bulkier items like groceries, library books, bags of new clothes, e.t.c. you may run into some potential problems as those items will likely have to be placed on an empty seat for the duration of your bus ride.

  18. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 18:26:23
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    JustChecking - 29 minutes ago  » 
    David wrote,

    ...the main public transport infected location was the back seat or seat over the engine.

    Can the engine be anywhere on the bus? Is it the vibrating part?

    Boy, Just Checking, that was a softball for me, but I'll let someone else (you know who you are) change this to an adult topic.

    In my city and probably most, the homeless are allowed to ride the buses almost all night in the winter and sometimes in the summer. There is some sort of unwritten rule that most are in the very back part of the bus. Some of it is they are trying to sleep. Would the engine have anything to do with the bedbugs being there? That part is the warmest (and loudest) in the winter.

    On my transit, they go to the libary downtown, sit all day and ride the bus all night. There are shelters, but they can be dangerous. And, you get kicked out for using drugs or alcohol.

    It's a sad life, I'm sure.

  19. ITortureBugs4Revenge

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 18:40:12
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    Its the same thing in a public library, the homeless are allowed to use it as they please as long as they don't cause a disturbance, damage property or bring alcohol or narcotics on the premises. They even use the library restrooms to wash themselves, shave, e.t.c. Of course every city has its own policy regarding the issue, but all cities are pretty much the same in regards to public libraries and the homeless from what i understand.

  20. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 18:47:35
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    I think your correct, Torture. And, it's not just the homeless with bugs, of course.

    One of the transit workers said they have a stop at the public library but run 2 blocks to use the restroom at a grocery store vs. the library since it's "dirty".

  21. ITortureBugs4Revenge

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 18:59:26
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    When I'm at the library to check out books, which i do rather frequently i never sit on any furniture there, and i always have my trusty folding shopping cart with me to keep the books in i plan on taking home. I'm fortunate that the library in my city is always very clean (Restrooms aside) and i find it pleasant to spend time there, but when it comes to bedbugs none of it matters when in a place that has a high turnover of people through the day, homeless or not.

  22. JustChecking

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 19:03:30
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    TAOT wrote,

    Would the engine have anything to do with the bedbugs being there? That part is the warmest (and loudest) in the winter.

    That helps, TAOT.

    Occasionally, the back seat is so burning hot. The engine?

    TAOT also wrote,

    Boy, Just Checking, that was a softball for me, but I'll let someone else (you know who you are) change this to an adult topic.

    I honestly couldn't think of the other adjectives to describe the bus engine earlier. You may not need to worry about going to an adult topic as I don't think the 2 suspects ride the transit often.

    ITorture wrote,

    Even if you are lucky enough to live in a city where standing is allowed on the bus you still have the issue concerning any belongings you may have with you, which is fine if all you have is a backpack or gym bag you can just keep over your shoulders while you stand there, but in the case of bulkier items like groceries, library books, bags of new clothes, e.t.c. you may run into some potential problems as those items will likely have to be placed on an empty seat for the duration of your bus ride.

    I know. Before I placed 2 heavy loaded bags of groceries on the bus floor because I had to release the vacant seat to one of the overcrowded bus riders. If it were a planned grocery day, I definitely would have my portable shopping trolley with me. However, it touches the edge of the seat and sometimes other people's coats or belongings.

  23. killrtddy

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 19:07:40
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    Boy has this post made me nervous! I have been taking the bus for 3 years now since I am a college student, and I have never once thought that I could possibly get BBs from the bus, even though it's not impossible either. My bus is quite the popular one too, especially during rush hours, but I can definitely believe it when someone says that they got BBs from a bus, because buses are so darn dirty it makes me wonder if anyone ever cleans them or even inspects them for possible bugs? Now that I think of it, has any PCO ever inspect a bus or train for BBs before?

  24. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 19:08:31
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    JustChecking - 3 minutes ago  » 
    TAOT also wrote,

    Boy, Just Checking, that was a softball for me, but I'll let someone else (you know who you are) change this to an adult topic.

    I honestly couldn't think of the other adjectives to describe the bus engine earlier. You may not need to worry about going to an adult topic as I don't think the 2 suspects ride the transit often.

    I think you are right. There are 2 males and 2 females that are the main culprits. And we know who both are

  25. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 19:10:55
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    I think there was an article on the Detroit buses, and at one point, riders were getting rashes around their knees from bedbug bites. I still didn't get the impression there were a lot of hitchhikers.

    You have several OCD people on this thread (including me), so don't worry too much. The drivers in my city have told me the seats up front and in the back are where the main risk is, but they would tell their family it's ok to sit. It's a fairly low risk. It has to do with exposure vs. dirt.

    Sorry for scaring you!!!

  26. killrtddy

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 19:19:18
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    Oh no need to be sorry! But thank you for the information, it's always nice to hear stories like this even if they do make your skin crawl

  27. JustChecking

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 19:21:09
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    Just fabulous! I have to sit on one of the front seats often when I have my fully loaded trolley. Regardless, I think it's like playing Russian Roulette. Unless there's a pile of bed bugs, the lone bed bug is so small and could be lurking anywhere. It's good if some transit get treated at the end of the day, but what about the coming and going of so many different bus riders everyday?

    Can't worry too much unless one has the option of driving a vehicle.

  28. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 19:32:13
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    Good points, Just Checking. I think there's more a risk of being bitten and they go back to the harborage, then a hitchhiker. But, that is just my uninformed opinion, otherwise know as rose colored glasses.

  29. ITortureBugs4Revenge

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    Posted 5 years ago
    Tue Mar 18 2014 19:32:49
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    I honestly don't know the probability of adult bedbugs hitchhiking on living, moving people in contrast to them gaining access to stationary personal belongings left in vulnerable places, which we do know is a good way of bringing bugs home with you. I would think that bugs harboring in bus seats and the like would more likely just sneak out for a quick bite and then scurry back into hiding where they came from as opposed to them clinging on to a moving person for the long haul. Something about a person's body temperature or a chemical cue of some type causes bedbugs to be close to the person just long enough for them to feed and then they immediately scurry away, an instinctive trait that lessens the likelihood of them getting crushed by a moving person. That is what I've heard. Any expert feedback on that would be much appreciated !


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