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Friend has bugs crawling on her

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  1. rjp

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Thu Aug 29 2013 12:19:19
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    I'm at my wits end with a friend of mine. She has had bedbugs since last summer, got sent home from her job once they discovered she had them, and only then did she agree to exterminate them (but they never let her come back to work, so she later had to quit). She hired a reputable company, but either that particular PCO was not competent enough or my friend did not follow directions (I'm guessing she did not.) She even gave the bugs to me, but that's another story.

    Anyhow, she kept telling me that they were gone and it was safe for me to come into her house again. I somehow did not believe her, but she really needed help with some paperwork at her house and I would not let her in mine, so I let her come pick me up in her car. As I was working on the paperwork, I noticed 2 bedbugs. I was wearing shorts and my bare legs had been feeling odd, like I was sitting on scratchy wool. I told her about the 2 bedbugs I'd seen, which I also captured with clear tape, and she did not beleive me that they were bedbugs. 2 days later, over 40 bites showed up on the back of my legs, and they were identical to any bed bugs bites I've gotten previously. I called her and told her. She denied having bed bugs again.

    Last week, she called me and wanted to go to lunch. I agreed to that, but told her I would not come to her house afterwards because she confessed she had fleas. Since she won't believe she had bedbugs, I used that as an excuse not to come over. When lunch was over, sure enough, as we were driving back, she asked me to come with her to her house. I said I couldn't get bitten up any more by anything and I'd wait for her in the car. She said they only had "one or two fleas" (there is no such thing as one or two fleas) but I insisted on not coming in. She said other than the one or two fleas, the only other thing they had were "these beetle bugs". As if on cue, an adult female bedbug crawled out of her shirt sleeve and started down her right arm. I gasped audibly (I didn't mean to) and she said, "and this is what I do with them" and brushed it off her arm out the open car window. I spent the rest of the car trip convincing myself I'd just seen what I saw.

    We went to her house and I flatly refused to go in. She drove me home and I decontaminated. But, she'd given me a paper bag with some stuff in it. I plastic-bagged that and when I disassembled the paper bag later (50 yards from my house or anyone else's), I found 4 live nymphs and 3 cast skins and some other bug I could not identify. I knew what they all were, but I took the bugs to a local pest control company so I could tell her a professional had confirmed bed bugs. Sure enough, they were bedbug nymphs and skins. They could not identify the other bug that I wasn't able to identify.

    I really can't deal with my friend any more. I love her, but her infestation is obviously bad enough that she's carrying live bugs out of the house on her and potentially spreading them everywhere she goes. I remember someone on this site saying most people don't walk around with bedbugs dripping off of them, and I'm sure they are 100% right. But, my friend has enough that at least one was walking around on her.

    By being around her, I've realized I'm risking my health (I have serious reactions to bites), my home, my finances, and to an extent, my sanity. (A bedbug infestation would be financially devastating as I barely can hold on to my home now, and losing my house would be emotionally devastating.) Decontaminating my clothes and shoes is time consuming after visiting her, and I can think of better ways to spend a Sunday. She won't listen to me or even believe me that she has a serious problem. You'd think she would know it because she is covered in bites and has literally scratched her right arm and left hand and wrist open.

    It drives me nuts that she's contributing to an already bad bedbug problem in our city, is likely taking the bugs to her new job, and won't even try something natual, like DE... which I gave her for free. I'm just at my wits end. We've been friends for over 20 years, but I don't see how that friendship can continue except over the phone. I'm a very loyal person and I stick by my friends no matter what, but.... I just can't take her any more. The bug crawling off her in broad daylight in the car was too much.

    Anyone else dealt with similar? Any luck convincinng someone that is in denial?

  2. endless_nightmare

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Aug 30 2013 1:24:58
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    is this made up?

    Andrea
    not a PCO
    Spinal Cord Injury Advocacy/Volunteer
  3. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Aug 30 2013 1:44:11
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    Is this one of the friends you mentioned in this thread?

    http://bedbugger.com/forum/topic/need-to-vent-about-a-friends-irresponsibility

    I started and run the site but am "not an expert."
  4. rjp

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Aug 30 2013 7:44:20
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    endless_nightmare - No, this is absolutely NOT made up. If you don't believe me, I can send you a photo of the bites all over the back of my legs from when I was at her house in May. I can also send you a photo of the nymphs and cast skins that I saved. (Although I guess neither of those would prove the story itself was true.) I saved the bugs because I never wanted to question what a nymph looked like again. I guess it sounds crazy, but believe me - this is not embellished or made up in the least. I wish it were.

    Nobugsonme - Yep, that's her. I guess I should have added to the old post. Sorry.

  5. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Aug 30 2013 8:01:08
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    Hi,

    Sounds like you may need to hold a bedbug "intervention". I have done this a few times, its not that different from the typical intervention format, collect print outs to prove what you are saying and help walk them through the realisation that they have an issue at home (this may require a few of you in the home wearing disposable suits).

    If they do not take the matter on board and are still in denial then unfortunately you have little or no other choice other than raising your concerns with the public health department as authority figures are more likley to have an impact.

    Yes it is correct that bedbugs will not normally be on people, however in more advanced cases where competition for food and refugia become fierce they can be found on people.

    As you have seen this happen and due to your circumstances and situation I strongly suggest that you meet at places and DO NOT LET THEM INFEST YOUR CAR.

    Sometimes people who would outwardly appear to be highly functional are not that way inside their homes and in their private lives. In such situations managing the process of dealing with bedbugs can be extremely hard and for a professional it can be like "pushing water up hill".

    Good luck with this one.

    David Cain
    Bed Bugs Limited

    I am happy to answer questions in public but will not reply to message sent directly or via my company / social media. I am here to help everyone and not just one case at a time.

    In accordance with the AUP and FTC 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 pro
  6. rjp

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Aug 30 2013 11:15:27
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    Thanks, David. I believe I may be her only friend, so I will try to enlist help from her family.

    There's a lot going on behind the scenes: her husband has got medical problems and is disabled, although I think most of his problems are mental. He refuses to bathe, never changes clothing, and complains all day. He screams at her about "the money" all the time (they're not doing much better than I financially) and is just a very miserable person. She has to live with this and his always-on-the-edge-of-insanity mental state is likely one reason she won't do anything.

    Calling the county health department is a very good idea, thank you. I have recently contemplated calling her new job and letting them know. I DO NOT want to get her fired, but I also feel it is so unfair to everyone she is working with for her to (likely) be bringing those things in there. She does not take any precautions, and money for an exterminator or not, there are still some things she could do.

    Don't worry, there is no way in Hades she will EVER come into my car or house. She lied (or was in denial) once about not having bugs already, so I'm not willing to believe her if she says it again any time soon. Frankly, after seeing the bug on her, I'm worried to even meet her in public since I have to get into my own car after meeting with her. I realize it's highly unlikely I can pick up a bug from her like that, but she does have enough that they're living in her clothes or purse or both. Really, I just don't think it's worth my anxiety.

    Thank you for your help.

  7. loubugs

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Aug 30 2013 13:10:41
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    Yes, bed bugs certainly can be on people when the infestation is large enough that they are crawling all around and ending up on clothing that are on chairs, sofas, beds, closets, etc. I was just looking at a home, one floor of a 2 family house (luckily no one lives on the 1st floor) that was very much infested. The 3 bedroom hallway was closed off and the person lived in the living room, kitchen, dining area. There were 10s of thousands of bed bugs overall. Since she stayed on the couch, slept on the couch, the majority were in various layers of blankets, bedding, pillows, fabrics. I didn't pull all the layers away to see the framework; unfortunately, didn't have hours to look around. They weren't all full of blood even though they could feed whenever they wanted. And there were little groupings of bed bugs on all of the fabrics; clearly they had preferences. In bed bug remediation, it's important to look at what's going on instead of just spraying because there is an infestation. There's no reason to rush, they're really not going to try to escape because there are more people around. On the contrary, the more people, the more carbon dioxide, the more heat, the more bed bugs crawling to see what's going on. The woman is in her late 90s and doesn't react too badly to the bites. She is somewhat anemic and that 's not good, but she's in good spirits. She's become more reclusive since she had brought bugs to doctor's office and related health offices and they didn't want her to come any longer. There's more to the story, and she's getting help from a very nice K9 handler and from one of the PMPs who's on this list. She likes to talk about the problem since we understand about it; the general public wouldn't think of speaking with her.

    Professional entomologist/arachnologist. I consult on all matters dealing with insects and arachnids, including those of natural history and biology to pest management and forensic entomology investigations.
  8. endless_nightmare

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Aug 30 2013 14:10:26
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    Sorry rjb, it's not that I didn't believe you

    this is just such an extreme case

    usually people freak out at the first small sign or what appears to be a sign

    to walk around with bedbugs crawling on you because you have so many is so insane, my god. What kills me is that she is covered in bites and does not care.

    I agree with the intervention type deal and maybe some professional help after.

    I guess this is similar to hoarders with their pile of garbage in the house and they can't see what's wrong, while other people that go in are completely in shock

  9. rjp

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Aug 30 2013 15:15:41
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    endless_nightmare - thanks

    Yes, it's insane. And I believe she truly knows she has them on some level, she just does not want to admit it to anyone - even herself. Maybe she thinks if she ignores it they'll go away or some other nonsense. As she was scratching on and off during lunch, she even told me she wasn't getting bitten by anything (even the fleas). CRA----ZY!

  10. BBNewbie

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    Fri Aug 30 2013 17:32:04
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    I have a friend that is a hoarder. I have helped her shovel out rooms (which means filling boxes to be stored in the attic) several times only to have the same space refilled within a few weeks after. It's exasperating, but I care about her. Your situation is somewhat similar.......much more extreme........but similar. They both seem to have mental issues, and that mustbe addressed before you can expect any real change.

    How old is yourfriend? Adult protective services could be an optionto get her help if she is old enough. And as bb-scouk said, maybe the boardof health could help or at least giveyou some options.

    Bless you though for being her friend.

    S

  11. theyareoutthere

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Aug 30 2013 20:03:45
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    I hope I don't offend. The intervention may not work without professional help. Yes, they have a responsibility to others; however, the denial is very, very deep if she is flicking it out the window. You may be forced to make some decisions.

    I've had cases where I would have drowned if I had kept helping the other person (1st rule of being a lifeguard is don't let them bring you into their drowning. But, you are trying to save them). I've also found that when I stopped being there, they found a new solution. They hated me for a while or were confused by my subtle distancing. She sounds like she would push you to do what she wants vs. being hurt and confused.

    There are some people I see less often because they don't understand my allergies and I've learned I just have to remain in control of my environment. If I get in a car with them, I will get sick because they will do something I'm allergic to and I will have an allergic reaction. Isn't that similar to your situation? You have a reaction to the bites.

    Again I hope I haven't offended.

    They
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  12. bed-bugscouk

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Fri Aug 30 2013 22:42:01
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    Hi,

    As an aside I am happy to offer a Skype chat to the PCO's who will be working on this one.

    I always spend a lot of time when training people how to personally deal with the impact of working on such cases. It can be a real emotional roller coaster for all involved. It's a case of forewarned is forearmed.

    David

  13. rjp

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sat Aug 31 2013 15:56:10
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    BBNewbie – You know, I didn’t think about it until you said something, but she probably does have some mental issues – not just her husband, who clearly does. (I know everyone is probably saying duh, but I guess I was just trying to be a friend instead of paying close enough attention.) She has told me some other things about herself that are most definitely fantasy and completely off the wall – I’d rather not get into what – but if she believes even a quarter of those things she tells me, she does have serious problems.

    She will soon be 60 and her husband is almost 62. I will call the health department in the county she lives in and see if they have suggestions or if they have senior services that might be able to help – thank you for the suggestion on seniors. She may qualify.

    I can imagine how frustrating it is to try to help your friend. I am sorry you are going through similar.

    Theyareoutthere – you are dead on accurate, and don’t worry, you are not offending me. She does push me (my fault for accepting it up to this point). For example, when we went to lunch, I told her I had to go home immediately afterwards because my fridge was dying and I was worried about it defrosting all over the wood subfloor. This was very true and a real possibility. After lunch, she insisted going shopping and stopping by her house. What should have been an hour and a half out turned into 4. Since she was driving, I had little choice. (I was too nervous to drive myself because I was worried her bed bug situation could have gotten worse since I’d been there in May, and I was right.)

    Yes, you’re right – your situation is very similar. I only want to deal with her on the phone until she gets these things under some kind of control.

    In order to get professionals involved, which I think you are right and they need to be, I want to try to engage the help of her family. I believe they would help and have absolutely no clue what is happening.

    David – if I can get them to get a PCO involved, I will certainly direct them here. Thank you for willing to be there and sharing your expertise.

  14. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Sat Aug 31 2013 16:09:04
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    rjp,

    I am sorry your friends are in this situation and I am glad they have you to be concerned and try to help, even if they don't recognize the need. You got a lot of good suggestions above. I hope you'll keep us posted!

  15. rjp

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Wed Sep 25 2013 7:56:48
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    Update: my friend called me a few days ago and told me she had bed bugs again. I managed not to say "I know", but instead, asked how she discovered this. She said she was at work and a coworker noticed a bug on her coat, knew what it was, and told management. There was also one spotted crawling on her and on her cubicle wall. Management took her aside and she admitted that she "used" to have them before and that she did not realize the "black beetles" she was seeing were bed bugs. They sent her home.

    The company she works for was smart: they took it seriously, unlike her last company. They hired a dog, but the dog did not find any bugs. However, when they disassembled her office chair and cubicle, they discovered both were infested. (I'm not so sure I'll be hiring a dog any time soon.) They said the chair had over 100 hiding in it plus eggs. They also said that they did not discover any in any other cubes or elsewhere, but they still shut the company down and had the whole place exterminated.

    Since then, she has not been allowed to enter the building to pick up her personal possessions,
    which she wanted even though she is still employed. The company shipped them to her instead. They told her she can't come back until she gets them exterminated.

    Up until this point she has denied she has them even though I have told her repeatedly that I was
    bitten at her house in May. But now that they have been discovered at work and she has to deal with it, she admits she has them. The same exterminator she used before came and discovered she has bed bugs again. She told her company that the guy only found 7-8 on the couch (which has a tight weave and they can't get inside the cushions) but she did not tell them that he also found them between the couch cushions, crawling where the ceiling meets the walls, in the bed, and even in the kitchen. She said he wasn't going to spray the entire house, but I hope he's smarter than that and does the whole thing. I saw them at one end of the house in May and she's seen them in the middle and other end, so I would never understand the logic of not doing the whole house.

    I asked her if the exterminator gave her any advice regarding the stored paper bags, old magazines, newspaper, corrugated cardboard and other clutter. She said he said she should clean it up. I asked her if she was going to and she hem-hawed; I guess her husband would have a fit. I suggested bagging it all for 18 months if it was that important, and was keeping this stuff really worth going through this again next year? I don't think it registered fully.

    Her solution to all of this is to look for another job. She thinks they will always be suspicious of her, and she is probably right. Apparently the exterminator is coming back every 3 months to spray not only for bed bugs, but other bugs like fleas, which they also have. I'm happy she is finally getting someone out there to exterminate, but am hesitant to believe they will be irradiated if they don't clear some hiding places.

  16. anxietyalready

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    Wed Sep 25 2013 15:46:26
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    Having anxiety myself, I can understand how this issue could become overwhelming if a person doesn't have help. It sounds like her husband is of no help (and may actually be a hindrance). The physical demand put on a person (especially someone with clutter) to properly prepare is extreme. Tack on mental illness and no help and the fear, anxiety and lack of sleep the bb's bring on themselves and you have a cocktail for potential infestation. Once infested you can then tack on other physical and mental health issues like possible anemia, sores, infection, sleep deprivation, denial, depression, isolation, paranoia... they definitely need a good pest control company (maybe the board of health deals with a place specifically?) and some outside help.

    I am so thankful I have my partner to do the physical work here. It would have been very hard for me to do it on my own. I didn't realize how much 'stuff' we had in the basement! We don't have an infestation but I wanted to do everything in my power to ensure the problem didn't get worse and I took this as a sign it was time for me to get rid of things. We have gone through sooo many plastic bags :/

    Hoping your friend becomes 'refriendable' in the future

  17. MeltySpatulae

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    Wed Sep 25 2013 17:53:12
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    rjp - 9 hours ago  » 
    They hired a dog, but the dog did not find any bugs. However, when they disassembled her office chair and cubicle, they discovered both were infested. (I'm not so sure I'll be hiring a dog any time soon.) They said the chair had over 100 hiding in it plus eggs.

    As someone who just hired a K9, and is having a different company to give a second opinion later this week, that's disconcerting. For a dog and handler to miss over 100 bugs would seem to suggest a fairly high level of incompetence on someone's part...

  18. alexana

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    Posted 6 years ago
    Wed Sep 25 2013 21:44:33
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    I was going to say, your friend definitely has some mental health issues. To have that level of denial, and not to think at all about the repercussions her actions have on all those other ppl she might have spread bugs to...eesh. You need to take care of yourself first by not putting yourself in dangerous situations-this is just setting boundaries and is healthy. Good luck!

  19. theyareoutthere

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    Wed Sep 25 2013 22:20:38
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    Wow, 100 bugs in her office chair..assume it's the typical rolling one without arms. Good that none were found elsewhere.

    You've been a good friend, but don't believe it if she tells you the whole house was exterminated or she bagged everything. She is going through a tough time and doesn't understand the impact this could have on you.

    Good luck!

  20. rjp

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    Thu Sep 26 2013 10:27:35
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    anxietyalready - I've lived my entire life with some level of anxiety, so I understand. I think you've hit the nail on the head on how she is behaving. They hired an extremely reputable pest control company to exterminate, I just hope she listens. I've tried calling the county health department several times, but have not reached a human. She lives in a sparsely populated, rural county, and I suspect they have not heard too much on this subject yet. I'm not sure they would step in now anyhow since she has contacted an exterminator. They are clearly hoarding some things, but if there were no bedbugs, it would not be enough hoarding to cause concern to a normal person. I am so glad your partner was able to help and I totally hear you on the basement. I have so much junk in mine!

    He husband is certainly a huge problem. She said she has not even asked him about being able to throw out some of the clutter. I don't know why she doesn't just DO it although I think you all are right and there is a mental problem here. She does not even seem to want to bring up the idea of bagging it all if he can’t part with it. She may not have had mental problems to begin with, but she herself has said living with her husband is a nightmare. He causes an unbelievable amount of stress and does nothing but complain and freak out (her words). They have little money, she just got sent home from work with no pay, and on top of that, they have what appears to be a fairly serious infestation. She’s certainly getting eaten alive and can’t be sleeping too well.

    MeltySpatulae - I would hope it was just an incompetent handler of the dog or maybe there were just too many other smells in there that threw the dog off. I hope your experience is better. I also hope you get good news.

    alexana - thank you. I agree. I decided some time ago that I could talk to her on the phone any time, but I don't want to be near her physically. It would make my anxiety worse and I don't need that.

    theyareoutthere - You're dead on - there is no way I will ever believe she is bug free. I can't believe she will keep on top of this or take care of clutter and they will likely be back. I will never let her into my house or car. She's too far into denial. And to my knowledge, it was a standard, rolling, cloth office chair. Her company has been very nice and given her a leave of absence so she does not lose her job, but of course they have to be exterminated before she can go back. I hope she can do it in time.

  21. rjp

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    Mon Oct 21 2013 12:09:22
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    My friend has had chemical treatments twice now. The PCO was willing to sign something saying her house was "clean" and she could return to work. Considering how heavy the infestation was and that my friend has only cleared small bit of the clutter (a few cardboard boxes and some bags), I'm not sure how the PCO can say that for certain.

    The company she worked for also demanded she have her car inspected. My friend insisted cars couldn't become infested because they are either too hot or too cold for bed bugs to live in. I attempted to correct that but she still insisted it was not possible. Regardless, the car was also found to be infested and she had to treat that. They used something called Fireback, which I have not heard of. Anyone know much about this product?

    My friend says that with the proof provided by the PCOs that both her house and car are clean, she can go back to work. She said she plans to bag everything while she is at work (purse, etc.), spray her chair and desk area with alcohol, spray herself with alcohol before she leaves (she does not seem to be concerned that alcohol is very flammable) and plans to throw her clothes in the dryer when she gets home. I think I've talked her into bagging her shoes when she gets home as well. She still blames the company, not herself, for their infestation. Although it's certainly possible someone else brought them in, she most likely did, too. At least if she bags everything at work she won't take any from her home back in there or vise versa.

    The company she works for apparently has had 3 treatments in the month since she has been off work, has disassembled the furniture and cubicles to treat, and has quarantined her computer. The PCO apparently told them to bag the computer for one month and the bedbugs will suffocate. From what I've read on here, it's got to be longer than 30 days and they die of starvation, not suffocation.

    She's still looking for a new job. She said she is worried the company she works for as well as the employees will forever blame her for the problem. She's probably right.

    On an entirely different note, a woman I work with told me she lives in an apartment building and her next door neighbor has bedbugs. I was taking care of her cats and she has unbelievable clutter. Hopefully they don't migrate into her place, then into my workplace.... *sigh* I can't seem to get away from these things. I think I'll take up chair inspecting at work. No one needs to comment on that because it should have been a new topic.

  22. underattack

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    Mon Oct 21 2013 19:26:39
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    This is absolutely horrifying! To find 100 bugs in an office chair?!! How have they not spread to other cubicles??

    rjp you are being a good friend. I can't imagine what you are going through. I hope your friend gets the help she needs. Good luck to you as well.

  23. bbcomox

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    Tue Oct 22 2013 1:07:22
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    Hi rjp,

    Thanks for sharing information regarding your friend. Reading the account made me felt distressed for you and your friend. It's interesting on how we all emotionally react to bedbugs. You have been a great friend.

  24. rjp

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    Wed Oct 23 2013 10:28:02
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    I talked to her recently and her company stated they have since found them in multiple cubicles in her area as well as filing cabinets and in the break room. I don't think they looked too closely the first time.

    Thank you for saying I'm being a good friend, I have tried, anyhow. I feel bad for her. She told me her husband is now sleeping an average of 18 hours a day and is completely out of it when he is awake. Neither of us think he will be alive much longer, and of course I hope we're wrong. I think most of her denial is due to pure exhaustion and stress from dealing with him and from being sent home with no pay from work.

    The PCO had to come to her house again to check and spray again because her company demanded it. Despite the fact they found one live bug, they signed off that she was clean and could come back to work.


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