Got Bed Bugs? Bedbugger Forums » Tales of Bed Bug Woe

had bed bugs for a year, had multiple treatments, now allergic reactions

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  1. UnheardBanshee

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Thu Jul 28 2011 21:59:35
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    I have had bed bugs for about a year now. I live in a 120 unit building in southern Illinois. The complex I live in has 2 of these high rises and a group of townhouses. I think I got them from someone I was seeing in the other high rise. I saw a couple of them crawling on his curtains and sheets but I didn't know what they were. I got bitten while staying the night. My skin blistered and cracked and peeled off and bled. I had hundreds of bites, so I believe his apt was infested. I had my mom put some chigger stuff on them; it creates a seal so you can't scratch them, but it didn't help much. I had to go see a dermatologist and get steroid pills and antihistamines. It turns out I'm severely allergic, which wasn't really a surprise because I'm allergic to most bug bites. Shortly after I started getting bites in my own bed.

    I've had around 6 or so bed bug exterminations in the last year. I don't think it's being handled properly but I'm not sure if I can do anything about it. I'm disabled and live in low income housing; I hope to get this taken care of and to move. The office here only treats if you complain. Recently they started scheduling automatic follow up visits a week later. They use Orkin. The office is supposed to give us at least a week's notice but alot of times they don't. They never know when the guy is coming. Nobody can ever give me a time window or anything. I take my dog to my mom's house first thing in the morning and stay for the whole day and come back after dinner because no one even tells me when they finish. We're supposed wash to all of our clothes and bedding (which I do), and put everything in trash bags in the middle of the living room. They come in and do whatever it is they do; the office people couldn't tell me what that is. Then you come home and wait and see.

    I have severe allergies to most bug bites. The past year I've had 4 steroid treatments. The most recent was about a month ago; the last extermination was about 2 weeks before that. The doctor gave me an injection rather then the pills because I was having a spontaneous allergic reaction; I had to have strong antihistamines and a topical foam as well. I think I'm developing an allergy to the pesticides.

    It seems like they go away for a couple of weeks then just go wild on me.

    I don't feel them biting me and I have no evidence that I can see. Except the bugs themselves and the blood smears on my sheets and pillows. I've put fly paper around my vents because the office manager thought maybe I was getting them through there; they tell me they can't fumigate the vents because too many people have respiratory problems. I've seen the bugs crawling on my box springs. I actually woke up about 11 am today to find one scurrying across my sheet. I squished it and flushed it down the sink. It was full of fresh blood; I woke up to my hand being all puffy. I've taken several bugs in plasitc bags to the office to show them; they seem to think they're doing all they can.

    I haven't tried anything other than the exterminations they've been doing. I don't want to make it worse; or make me or my dog sick. Today my mom and I went to an organic food store in town and they recommended Diatomaceous Earth. I had no idea what that was and found it on here. I don't know if i should try that. I've been thinking of buying DDT over the internet or suing them. A guy at the food store said I should sue. He had them for 4 months and got his money back from his landlord, moved, and bought new furniture. I've thought of just moving and leaving all my stuff, but I can't afford it. I just have no idea what to do. I threatened to move out last October, but had no where to go.

    What should i do?
    Can I report them? To whom?
    Should I try DE?
    Should I suffer through it and move and buy a new bed?
    Will putting a plastic cover on my box springs even help?
    Do I need to report it to the office manager again? I don't want to have another allergic reaction...

  2. newtactics

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 29 2011 11:14:51
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    I'm no expert, and have only been on the forum a short time, but I think the experts will say:

    Are you bringing new bugs in?
    Are they coming from neighbouring/above/below appts?

    you need to establish this. if a neighbouring appt. has a bad infestation then they will just keep coming in until they are treated

  3. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 29 2011 15:35:49
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    If you have had six treatments, would not be surprised if one or more attached neighbors also has them and is not getting treatment.

    The implementation of one week followups does sound like an improvement.

    Do you have a social worker or other social services contacts? If so, they may know who in the city or county inspects rental housing. Sometimes it's the housing department, sometimes it's the health department. You can also call the health department directly, and ask them.

    If the local government becomes aware of the problem, they may be able to inspect other units and help get it resolved more quickly. In cases like this, there are often a number of infested units and treatment needs to be coordinated.

    Someone in social services may also be able to tell you what your rights are in terms of getting alternate treatment which does not aggravate your health.

    We also sometimes see stories like this in the local news. You might try calling the local network affiliates, who might be interested in covering the story. This may help bring attention which gets things rolling. (It may not endear you to the manager, though.). If you go this route, it might help if you identified some neighbors who were also willing to speak to the media.

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

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 29 2011 15:39:47
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    DDT is illegal and you should not try and obtain some. DE can be helpful as part of a treatment plan but I would not recommend that you start self-treating in this case.

  5. NJ-BITES

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Fri Jul 29 2011 17:47:36
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    No don't move to fast because you will only bring them with you. -sighs-

    Please, take the time to clean and protect what you will be taking when you do move.

    You can opt- for legal ramifications.
    Check with your local landlord-tenant legal office abut putting your rent into escrow until the problem is clear.

    Ask them about small claims court for a potential suit against the LL to cover your losses and moving expenses.

    Try to gather all the evidence you can.
    Especially pertaining to non-disclosed information about previous infestation in the unit.

    Gather your other neighbors.
    ALL of you need to treat and put DE dust down at the same time.

    You can start the DE at the adjoining walls.
    And don't forget the electrical outlets and/or heating grates etc.

    ...........
    I am not a professional but they say DE is safe to use.
    However, it may not be safe to breathe.

    While you are treating and putting your stuff in sealed plastic after treatment.
    Objective is to isolate your bed so they cannot feed.

    I have a dog.
    I put DE in all the places I saw in the youtube videos and more.

    After the furniture was treated and bagged.
    I put DE powder directly at the bottom of the furniture and/or it's legs.
    I put it on the carpet and brushed a little inside the baseboards crevasses also.

    The bugs have to cross this line of powder to feed.
    It will eventually kill them but it does take time.

    How I clean up DE:
    I put on a small particle chemical mask, gloves and safety goggles.

    I Do Not use a air vacuum because that can send it up into the air!
    In other words. Avoid applying DE in places that have a good air flow.
    And avoid applying DE on un-bagged furniture where it can puff up into the air.

    I use a normal carpet cleaner with it's water.
    The steam cleaner makes the DE wet so it is less likely to become air born.

    I do check the contents of the vac and steam cleaner for evidence to see how my war is going.

    I let the areas dry and put a new batch down.

    One can leave it down 6-months or more because DE never stops working.

    Personally, I like to see what my steam cleaner and shop vac catches to see how good my treatments are working.

    In the beginning. I clean it up and reapply monthly.

    Now almost 2-years into this war. I do it every 3-months or so.

    Please, read my post titled: BED BUGS IN A WATERBED

  6. thecitymusthelp

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Jul 30 2011 9:19:05
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    This is exactly why DDT should be used again. This poor person is suffering miserably. This is outrageous!! DE or PCO exterminating with chemicals (even every single day) will NOT fix the problem in a 120 unit building.

    UnheardBanshee - contact your local congressman and tell them your situation. Nobody should have to live like this. I wish you the best of luck

  7. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Jul 30 2011 11:58:41
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    thecitymusthelp.

    Proper use of chemical pesticides that we do have access to can eliminate infestations even in very large buildings. DE may or may not be part of that plan when it is applied safely by PCOs.

    The problem that UnheardBanshee describes is a terrible one, and one that I wouldn't wish on anyone.

    But it's not a problem with the pesticides that are available. It's a problem with how the landlord or property management firm is choosing to treat.

    We know from plenty of solid evidence that if a multi-unit building has multiple infested units, all units adjacent to the infested unit must be inspected, and if bed bugs are found, all units that are infested must be treated at the same time. When UnheardBanshee says that the office only treats when tenants complain, that's the heart of the problem.

    UnheardBanshee,

    I am so sorry that you're going through this. No one should have to suffer through an infestation this long.

    Please take a second look at what Nobugsonme said above. She gives really solid advice about social services or tenants' rights organization contacts. It sounds like someone needs to be putting pressure on the building management to shift their policy to make sure they're using practices that will actually eliminate the bugs in the building.

    They should be ashamed of themselves for not addressing this more effectively.

  8. UnheardBanshee

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Jul 30 2011 12:02:34
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    I know DDT is illegal. I'm not really gonna buy it. It was just a desperate thought.

    I'm not gonna move until I get this taken care of...I have read up on this believe it or not. I want to move from here for several other reasons; this is just the icing on the cake.

    I've found 2 full of blood the past couple of days; they really like my hands...my dog was trying to kill one when I woke up.

    Is talking to the news or a congressman a little to much right now? I don't know. I don't want to make the situation worse. Even though I hate living in low income housing I don't want to become unable to live in it if I need to in the future. I haven't talked to the office manager yet; I want to have my mom with me. We were thinking of calling a different exterminator and asking them questions; is that a good idea?

  9. UnheardBanshee

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Jul 30 2011 12:03:40
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    Also, is it possible that I'm developing allergies to the pesticides?

  10. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Jul 30 2011 12:14:16
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    It is possible either that your skin is reacting to the pesticides. It is also possible that--well, let me explain it this way.

    I have seasonal allergies.

    I also have other allergies that aren't seasonal.

    I know what most of my allergy triggers are, and I do my best to avoid them.

    I take allergy meds during the seasons I know pollen will be bad.

    But every so often I end up somewhere where I cannot avoid allergy triggers. So I go to someone's house who, it turns out, smokes. Or a building I walk into has a mildew problem.

    Once I've been exposed to those triggers, if I get exposed to *another* allergen that doesn't usually bother me, it's not like we take the original allergy and add the second allergen to it, making it slightly worse. Instead of an additive effect it's an exponential effect in terms of how much worse my allergic response to the second trigger is.

    My understanding is that that's pretty common with allergies.

    We've had a lot of reports of people who have been bitten by bed bugs becoming more sensitive to other allergens or irritants after being bitten by bed bugs.

    I would start by contacting any resources you have with social services or with tenants rights first. See if they know about local resources for pressuring the building management to do the right thing.

    I also think having support with you when you talk to them is a good idea, not only for you but also because you might want management to know that you're paying attention and documenting their response. Sometimes property management folks will do the minimum required by law, but if they know they're being paid attention to, that might be enough to get them to behave properly.

    If those first venues fail to pressure the building into doing the right thing, the news and your local city council members or your state assembly or congresspeople might be the next stop. I expect Nobugsonme put that in because if you've got a lazy or cheap landlord or property management company, it may take public shaming to get them to behave.

  11. UnheardBanshee

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Jul 30 2011 12:19:24
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    What kind of social service people? I don't know who to talk to.

    Do you guys have any solid proof type things I can show the manager about how to treat; like scientific studies or something? Not that I don't trust you, but I doubt they'll take you'r word for it.

  12. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Jul 30 2011 12:58:02
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    You can look at the Comprehensive Guides section of the Resources page. The National Pest Management Assn's Best Management Practices for bed bugs will probably give you some useful information you can show your landlord.

    Since you are disabled I wondered if you might have access to social services (e.g. a social worker) already. It sounds like that's not the case. (If you did, they might be able to help you get some attention drawn to the problem.)

    As I said here, you might try calling the health dept. In many cities/counties, either the health dept. or housing dept. inspect housing. If you get them in there to verify the problem exists, they may also inspect other units and they may pressure the landlord to act more aggressively.

  13. UnheardBanshee

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Jul 30 2011 13:16:00
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    @Nobugsonme

    No, I don't have a social worker or anything, but I do have some people I can ask to hopefully find someone to help me.

    Also, I don't understand how I have them. It could just be that it's not being taken care of properly. But I only have one vent that connect to anything else and I put fly paper around it. I don't have anyone that lives here in my apartment; I don't go to anyone else's. Maybe my dog carries them in...I don't pick up old furniture or clothes. I just don't get it.

  14. Nobugsonme

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Jul 30 2011 19:40:21
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    UnheardBanshee - 6 hours ago  » 
    .
    Also, I don't understand how I have them. It could just be that it's not being taken care of properly. But I only have one vent that connect to anything else and I put fly paper around it. I don't have anyone that lives here in my apartment; I don't go to anyone else's.

    There's two questions in my mind: where did they come from (hard to answer) and why are they still there after six treatments?

    You originally said you might have got them from visiting someone in the other building? That's possible, but not necessarily the cause.

    You can pick them up anywhere.

    However, in complexes like this, it is not uncommon for multiple units to be infested. I am especially concerned when you have multiple treatments and the problem persists. They can simply walk over from a neighbor, can be picked up in the laundry room, can even come through electrical sockets.

    Keep in mind that treatment needs to hit all affected units. Others may have a problem they have not disclosed (they did not notice or did notice and do not realize what the problem is).

    Or they may have had treatment which is not being repeated because the person does not notice the problem persisting (remember: many don't react to bites).

    Having all infested units detected and treated is important. That's an area your building management probably needs to work on.

    Getting re-treated at short intervals until the problem is entirely gone is important (10-14 day intervals are common and your new schedule of 7 day re-treatments seems like a big improvement, actually). If your earlier treatments were staggered at more than two weeks apart, it may have given bed bugs time to regroup and feed/breed. So that could have led to the problem persisting as long as it has.

  15. UnheardBanshee

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Jul 30 2011 20:47:25
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    I'm fairly certain I got them from that person. I was sleeping over and carrying my pillows and a sheet back and forth. And he'd sleep at my place too.

    That's what I'm upset about; the 6 treatments. I don't use the laundry rooms here and I don't use the lobby furniture ; which has been treated 2 times that I know of, left out in the open room of the lobby. *sigh* My furniture was all brand new when i bought it 2 years ago. I really don't want to get rid of it. I can't buy a new bed...

    Yeah the past treatments have been really far apart. They'd spray and then not come back until I complained again. And even then it would be 2 weeks to a month before they'd show up after the complaint. Sometimes it was a month in between; sometimes several months.

    I'm sure there are tons of people here with them. Alot of the people that live here are mentally disabled. They can't take care of themselves; so they probably don't even know what to look for or to report it or that there's anything wrong or anything like that. I'm 95% sure they're not treating anybody except those of us that complain.

    I found a nest I think; I've managed to get a few pictures after my panic attack subsided and I could hold my hands steady. Heh heh...

    It's just really frustrating to me that these people keep coming in and spraying all these chemicals and are supposed to professionally trained, and in a few days of searching this site, I found all kinds of evidence nobody could find before. I mean, are they even looking?

    I found this today:
    under the tag on the box springs at the head of the bed http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s240/chickenwing_328/5tagatheadofboxsprings.jpg

    http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s240/chickenwing_328/7anothercloseupoftag.jpg

    this is on the underside of the box springs
    http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s240/chickenwing_328/9underboxspringstornfeltupperleftside.jpg

    http://i154.photobucket.com/albums/s240/chickenwing_328/19fecalmarksunderboxspringscloseup.jpg

  16. UnheardBanshee

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    Posted 8 years ago
    Sat Jul 30 2011 20:49:47
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    Oh, P.S. I just wanted to say thanks. You've been so helpful. You've helped me see that there's something I can do about this and that I'm not crazy to think this should be handled better. Thanks!


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