You and the Law: Father bugged by school’s handling of son’s bed bug issue

Related imageby Dennis Beaver | December 6, 2019

It might be cute to hear a three-year old sing, “As snug as a bug in a rug,” but there’s nothing cute at all about having your home infested with bed bugs. But that’s what “Rudy” and his family dealt with in July, 2019 when their home became bed bug central.

“A pest control service got the infestation under control, but it was an expensive nightmare,” he explained during our telephone conversation. He had been on the phone to a number of attorneys wanting someone to file suit against the school district for the way a teacher and administrators dealt with his nine year old son who showed up at school with a bed bug on his jacket, the morning of October 8th.

After an absence of about 40 years, bed bugs have made a stunning worldwide return, and while it is rare for schools to become infested, still, in many parts of the country, finding even one bed bug on a student is considered as a public health emergency. All schools that receive federal funds must have extensive “What to do if” contingency plans in effect.

Taken to the Nurse’s Office

“From what my son, David, explained, as he walked into his classroom by the teacher, she spotted a bed bug on his jacket and immediately walked with him to the nurse’s office. While there, his jacket was removed, they lifted his shirt, examined his back and legs for evidence of bites or bugs themselves, but found none. Then, he was brought back to his classroom.”

You are probably thinking, “Thank goodness! That’s what they should have done! Why is the boy’s father upset?” That’s what I thought as well, and asked to speak with his son who also confirmed that everyone was nice to him.

“They all knew that we had bedbugs because I told my friends about the problem at home. It was really exciting!” this very polite, well-spoken nine year-old happily explained.

I Am going to Post the School’s Illegal Behavior!

However dad was furious, threatening to post what he felt was illegal conduct by all the people involved with David and the bed bug. But why? As the boy wasn’t harmed in the least, what had they done that was so wrong?

“They legally had the obligation of calling me first for permission to remove David’s coat or examine him! That’s what! I want a lawyer to sue them, and I’m going to post this on Facebook and other social media sites, listing all the names of those people.”

Well, not so fast, Rudy. In researching his school’s policy for dealing with bedbug issues, while it is required for a parent to be notified at some time, procedure calls for just what happened. They did the right thing. It is a public health concern where time is critical – so these little vampires don’t go looking for a human blood bank.

I asked Rudy if he thought about the consequences of posting what would amount to defamatory statements about these people. “What do you mean, consequences? Like getting them fired?”

“No,” I replied, “like getting yourself sued, creating a problem for your son down the road, and as such a suit would most likely be thrown out of court, still your names would remain out there forever, seen as troublemakers. Want to guess what I am thinking of?”

He had no idea.

Think Over Carefully Before Posting Anything Negative Online

I ran this all too common fact situation by two of our consultants for their evaluations:

–San Francisco-based attorney Richard Lutkus who is among a handful of lawyers in the country whose law practice concentrates on “cyber-security preparedness, data breach response, and data privacy.”

–California licensed private investigators, Riley and Jane Parker, who are the founders of Pre-Employment Profiles, LLC, a service for employers who need to vet would-be applicants.

“By posting false remarks online you are open to being sued for defamation, so assume that you cannot delete them ever. It is out there. Understand that whatever your write can be developed into a profile of who you are,” Lutkus points out, adding, “Just ask yourself–better yet, ask a friend–before posting something when you are angry–especially if it could be false–‘How could this come back and harm me?”

Both Riley and Jane Parker want Rudy to stop and ask, “By posting defamatory comments, or, if you find a lawyer who sues the school, just count on a background search that will have you and your son labeled as trouble. This will impact an employer’s decision to hire you, and could adversely affect your son’s future.”

Family sues Disney, says BED BUGS bit them at resort, then went home with them.

disney-s-all-star-movies-800x400Stock Daily Dish – December 3, 2019

A Louisiana couple is suing Disney, claiming they took home some unwanted souvenirs — bedbugs — that infested their home and traumatized their autistic son during their stay at the All-Star Movies Resort last year.

Ashley and Robert LaCombe filed the lawsuit that was transferred into Orlando federal court this week. The suit seeks more than $75,000 in damages.

A Disney spokeswoman did not comment specifically on the allegations other than the company would respond appropriately in court.

Ashley LaCombe, a commercial Realtor, and her husband, who runs a welding business, said they were on a five-day vacation in April 2018 when they began feeling itchy and red.

After they returned to their home in a parish north of New Orleans, they realized they had been bitten by “numerous” bedbugs, the lawsuit said.

The bedbugs bit them hundreds of times, leaving scars, said their New Orleans attorney Jennifer Greene.

The lawsuit says they ed Disney, and employees confirmed there were bedbugs in their hotel, a value resort near the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex.

“The bedbugs from the Disney Hotel traveled with the LaCombes on their luggage, clothing, and personal belongings, infesting their home in Louisiana,” the lawsuit said.

The LaCombes accused Disney of not disclosing there was a problem with bedbugs and not keeping the hotel free of infestations, according to the lawsuit first filed last year in U.S. District Court’s eastern Louisiana division.

The couple said they hired an exterminator to kill the bugs at their home, which forced them to find another place to stay. They threw away infected furniture and belongings and the couple also had to take time off work to deal with the situation. The stress also hurt their 5-year-old child, who has autism, the lawsuit said.

“The LaCombes experienced and continue to experience additional mental anguish and stress as they cannot enjoy their home,” according to the lawsuit. “Family members and friends cannot visit due to the risk of acquiring the bedbug infestation.”

The bugs are still a problem and returned even after the home has been fumigated, Greene said.

“It’s unfortunate for a family to deal with after going to the happiest place on Earth,” Greene said

Bedbugs a problem at OKC building that houses important state agencies

NEWS4 | by Chase Horn | November 21, 2019

OKC

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – For the past two months, the Oliver Hodge building, which houses the Oklahoma Department of Education, Office of Management and Enterprise Services, Oklahoma Teacher Retirement and the Statewide Virtual Charter School Board, has been fighting off bedbugs.

An email detailing the situation to employees was shared with News 4.

The email was sent on September 25, letting employees know they were planning a broad-spectrum pest spray treatment for the entire building.

“You`re going to first go in and inspect and determine what kind of pest do I have here,” ABC Home & Commercial Operations Manager Clayton Schiegg told News 4. “Broad-spectrum will kill anything, be it bedbugs, roaches, ants.”

Two weeks later another email was sent to employees confirming that there were bed bugs in the building. Fighting bedbugs are routine for exterminators, but fighting them in a building that large is never easy.

“It’s difficult because you don`t know where they are coming from at that point,” Schiegg said. “Anyone visiting the building could be bringing re-infesting the building.”

Another concern when dealing with a building like the Oliver Hodge building, is the amount of people that come in and out of there on a daily basis.

“They are definitely hitchhikers. So they come in on a person’s beanie, a purse – just like I stated – backpacks,” Schiegg said. “You name it, they can hitchhike on those items.”

The Department did not want to go on camera, but did send News 4 this statement.

The State Department of Education has taken all appropriate precautions to address this situation. The Hodge building has been treated for pests multiple times in recent weeks, and an area of the building will be resprayed on Friday.

We have had visual confirmation of five bugs over the past several weeks, and recently two individuals have reported bites that may or may not be consistent with bedbugs. There is no evidence of an actual infestation.

We have been in constant contact with our landlord, the Office of Management and Enterprise Services Facilities Management Division, which is in charge of pest control management and other building management issues.

Mom says bedbugs found at Hendersonville hospital

NEWS4 HENDERSONVILLE, TN (WSMV) – by Nancy Amons |October 22, 2019

Bedbugs in a hospital room?

One mother, who just had a baby in a Sumner County hospital, said bedbugs bit her 11-year-old daughter in the hospital’s labor and delivery suite.

The mom said the suite had a couch on it and she said that’s where she saw the bedbugs that she said bit her daughter.

Jamie Turner had just given birth to her third child on Oct. 16 at TriStar Hendersonville Hospital. That’s where she said she took a picture of a bedbug crawling on her 11-year-old daughter. She said the girl was sleeping on the couch in the same room where she had just given birth.

“I thought it was very disgusting to see the bugs there, period,” said Turner. “I just had a baby and that’s one of the things you wouldn’t think of to run across, to have bedbugs in the room with a newborn baby.”

You can see bumps in her 11-year-old daughter’s face. There are marks on her arm too.

“She was complaining about itching,” said Turner.

Bedbugs are hitchhikers. They can come into a room on luggage or on people. Experts say once you have them, they are hard to get rid of.

News4 sent pictures Turner shared with the PR Department with TriStar on Tuesday. TriStar provided a statement to News4 about the incident.

“We always strive to provide the best possible care in an environment that promotes healing and wellness, and we’re sorry that this patient was dissatisfied with her experience. Our staff are trained to follow established and effective cleaning and disinfection procedures, and we conduct routine checks to help ensure our rooms are up to our standards for cleanliness. When we became aware of this complaint, we immediately brought in an exterminator to assess and treat the room, though they reported finding no pests.”

Two bed bugs walked into a bar. Is that why Pelican Pub patrons got a rash?

Justine Griffin, Medical Reporter | 10/31/2019
VA_TechBB
This 2008 photo from the Virginia Tech Department of Entomology shows a female bed bug, right, and her offspring. Pinellas County health officials investigating a rash outbreak among patrons of the Pelican Pub found two bed bugs, one live and one dead, in the St. Petersburg bar. The insects, along with cleaning solutions used by the bar, are being investigated as possible causes of the rash. [Associated Press / Virginia Tech Department of Entomology]

It’s not common for bed bugs to be found in a bar, but it’s possible.

Health investigators were unsure if the insects were the culprits behind a mysterious skin rash contracted by dozens of people after theOcty visited the Pelican Pub in downtown St. Petersburg.

They found one live bed bug and one dead one when they followed up Tuesday after a viral Facebook post that prompted some 60 people to say they developed a rash after visiting the bar, which sits next to the Jannus Live concert venue. Pelican Pub closed for two days during the investigation, but announced it would reopen Halloween night.

Patrons described the rash as itchy, blotchy, painful, and lasting for weeks — sometimes months. Some say they still have scars. Health officials also noted that bar employees wiped down benches inside the pub with a sanitizer that “exceeded the maximum concentration allowed.” It’s unknown if those levels could have caused chemical skin reactions.

The health department usually finds bed bugs in luggage and upholstery, said spokeswoman Maggie Hall. A search of health complaints and inspection reports in Pinellas County shows no history of investigations into a bar or restaurant with bed bugs.

“According to our environmental health staff, it’s more about hiding places for bed bugs than about the surface,” Hall said. “The bench itself was actually some sort of composite surface and not wood. Bed bugs look for places to hide and there seemed to be an area under the bench where they found a suitable spot.”

Nearly all the patrons who complained were sitting in the same area of the pub — on a set of benches in a corner.

“Bed bugs won’t burrow into the wood like termites, but they’ll hide in the cracks and crevices,” said Brittany Campbell, an entomologist with the National Pest Management Association. Campbell researched bed bug activity while completing her masters degree and doctorate.

“They actually like really rough surfaces. So rough wood, especially if it’s composite, would be preferable,” she said. “Studies show they prefer to hang out on unfinished wood instead of finished.”

Bed bugs feed on humans, and only require one “meal” every week or so. That’s why they tend to be found in mattresses or couches, where people sit or recline for long periods. They’re almost always found indoors.

“They are attracted to humans because they live almost exclusively on human blood,” Campbell said. “They can register our breath and our body heat. So that’s why when you’re sleeping and producing carbon dioxide, they’re attracted to you.”

Campbell said she “wasn’t surprised” to hear that bed bugs had turned up in a bar.

“They’ve been found in movie theaters, which makes sense since it’s dark and people sit for a long time. They’ve been in a Victoria’s Secret store, in libraries, just about anywhere,” she said. “They’re very good at hiding.”

It’s impossible to know where the Pelican Pub bed bugs came from, but Campbell said it’s likely someone already living with an infestation somewhere else unwittingly carried them into the bar. And all it takes to start an infestation is one pregnant bed bug. They are notorious for being hard to control, so Campbell recommends hiring a commercial pest control company to get rid of them.

“They are excellent hitchhikers,” she said. “Occasionally they get into people’s shoes, and they don’t even know it. So if someone was sitting on that bench and they were hungry, the bugs found a meal and hide thereafter.”

The owners of the pub said this week they hired a pest control company to do an inspection, and removed the benches where the affected patrons said they sat. The owners said the pub planned to reopen Thursday night with some bench-themed drink specials and celebrations.

“Our teams have been working around the clock to get the pub back up and running and we’re grateful to everyone’s hard work and patience,” pub owner Sean Knight said in a statement. “We’re ready to get back to what we do best, which is throwing great parties and having fun.”

 

Bed Bugs at the OFFICE – part of Truman State Office building closed

 Noah Brown | 

Two separate reports of bed bugs Wednesday at the Harry S. Truman State Office Building in Jefferson City were enough to close off two sections of the second floor.

The first report came from a manager who discovered the pests in her home a couple of weeks ago. She contacted Missouri Facilities Management Design and Construction to make them aware of the situation and to let them know she had taken care of the problem at her house. FMDC set bed bug monitors in the office and did a detailed vacuuming of the space.

Six bed bugs were recently found in a separate instance in the same space around office suites 270 and 280. Pest control dogs inspected the area today and found an additional three bed bugs.

A pest control company will be in the office over the next several days to perform a steam kill and treat the carpets.

According to the University of Minnesota, steamers are largely effective at killing bed bugs. Steamers can heat carpeting to around 180 degrees and penetrate up to 3/4 of an inch deep into carpeting.

A spokesperson for the Truman building said they’re hopeful the closed-off sections will be open sometime early next week.

While bed bugs are more prevalent in summer months, they are an indoor pest and won’t die off in the winter like others might.

The Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has guidelines for identifying and removing the pests should they appear in a person’s home.

According to the health department, bed bugs go through six stages of development throughout their life, all of which can be seen with the naked eye. Before a bed bug can grow to the next stage of its life cycle, they have to feed. That’s when they bite humans, as they get their nutrients exclusively from blood.

The department advises to clean and declutter your living space to help make the bugs more visible. Vacuuming regularly and doing laundry at a high heat will help kill any bugs that have found their way into carpeting and onto clothing.

Special casings are also available to help prevent the pest from reaching bedding.

If bugs are found, the department advises catching several in a plastic bag or containers without crushing them and to call a pest control agency. This will allow a professional to identify the pest for certain and develop the best removal solution.

Bed bugs: Richland parents upset they didn’t know sooner

KEPR | by Christopher Poulsen |

RICHLAND, Wash. — Reports of bed bugs are causing concern in the Richland school district.

Upset parents contacted Action News saying their attempts to reach the district weren’t being taken seriously.

They tell us our early-Friday report motivated district leaders to start talking.

Richland_Schools_Bed_Bugs

Now they say they’re upset it took the attention of the media to get a response.

“There’s been several times we’ve had conflict with the district over different issues,” explains concerned Richland mom Lacey Kogan. “It’s largely because of a lack of communication and not being transparent.”

Kogan and friends with kids at the same school say they’ve been aware of the bed bug situation at Jefferson elementary since spring and now they’re fed up and doing something about it.

“We invited the media because we want the district to know that we need transparency all the time, immediately, when you first know there’s a problem let us know,” she says. “I’ve talked with administrators, I’ve talked with district, most recently I talked with [elementary assistant superintendent] Brian Moore about this issue.”

Kogan says it’s about more than the bed bugs, but that plays a huge part in her decision to speak out.

“I want our house not to have that problem. [Bed bugs] can become very expensive because they infest upholstery,” she says.

Kogan says for her it all comes down to communication.

“Every mom I know wants to know what’s happening with their kids at school. They’re there for most of their day,” she says.

Kogan and other unhappy mothers say they’ve tried contacting school leaders, but claim they never hear back.

Instead of waiting for confirmation, she says she’s using heat to kill any possible bed bugs on her children’s clothing.

“When my kids get home from school today, their backpacks, coats, everything that I can will go into the dryer,” she says.

Kogan is especially bothered that the district held on to it for so long; she says a simple heads up would have gone a long way.

“Because they were not forthcoming with [the information], now they have hysterical parents that are acting out of fear, instead of acting from a place of collaboration and coordination,” she says. “Now they’ve got angry parents.”

Action News tried to reach Richland schools but after multiple attempts we took a trip to the district office.

They claimed they couldn’t give ‘specifics, in order to protect children’s privacy’.

After our visit the district sent parents this letter:

To our Jefferson families,
We want to update you on a recent report of bedbugs at Jefferson Elementary. We understand the concern this situation has raised with our families. We are working with everyone involved to resolve this concern, have connected them with community resources and will continue to help them. While we cannot share any details that will violate student privacy, we can share that district staff have worked hard to monitor conditions in the school and ensure that any extra or special cleaning that is needed is carried out. We continue to take all necessary steps to protect every student. The Washington Department of Health has information on how to prevent bedbugs from entering a home, how to identify them and how to treat them. Thank you for your patience and your understanding as we address this situation.

District liaison Ty Beaver says the bed bugs were only found in a particular area of Jefferson elementary, not throughout the entire building.

Officials explain this is not an infestation and the bugs are likely being brought in from another source.

In a prepared statement, Richland Education Association (REA) says reports of crews spraying over weekends are nothing unusual:

Like many public spaces, bedbugs are sometimes unwelcome pests in our school buildings. While a nuisance, there is no health risk from bed bugs. The District regularly sprays classrooms for pests, bedbugs included.

Kogan says that may be the case but without proper communication with parents, parents might not know they need to be on the lookout.

She says bed bugs are notoriously hard to get rid of.

“It can quickly spread to become an entire community problem if it’s not properly addressed,” she explains. “Our job is to parent and we are responsible for making sure [our kids are] cared for and that they’re protected. We can’t do our jobs if we’re left in the dark and not informed.”

The Washington Department of Health has information on how to prevent, guard against, identify and treat bed bugs.

Gross! What you need to know and do if your hotel room has bedbugs

USA TODAY | David Oliver | October 30, 2019

One of the last things anyone wants to see after entering a hotel room is a creepy, crawly bedbug — or to wake up with bedbug bites.

Bedbugs are tiny insects approximately the size of an apple seed. Adult bedbugs are oval, reddish-brown and flat. Younger ones can be difficult to see because they’re so small.

And there’s a reason they’re called bedbugs: They like to lurk during the daytime where people sleep and feed on them at night (bed bugs feed on both human and animal blood). The insects can be found in a host of places from mattresses to bedding to cracks in furniture to under carpeting and more.

Bedbugs can be found worldwide, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and are not a reflection on the cleanliness of any accommodation (so, yes, even a five-star hotel can have bedbugs). They don’t spread disease nor are they seen as dangerous, but allergic reactions to bites could require a doctor visit.

The bites look like mosquito or flea bites, with a swollen, red spot that could itch or hurt. They could present randomly as well as in a straight line. Some people might not have any adverse reaction to the bites, but others could see swelling.

AP-Bedbug-Insecticide-Risk

One of the last things anyone wants to see after entering a hotel room is a creepy, crawly bedbug — or to wake up with bedbug bites. (Photo: Carolyn Kaster, AP)

One of the last things anyone wants to see after entering a hotel room is a creepy, crawly bedbug — or to wake up with bedbug bites.
How do I look for bedbugs in my hotel room?
Make this a priority.

The University of Minnesota recommends looking at the edging and seams of mattresses and box springs, as well as a bed’s headboard. You should also check out the furniture near the bed, cracks in night stands as well as behind picture frames, where bedbugs can hide.

“If you think your hotel bed has bedbugs, you can either check your bed yourself, looking for small blood spots or small blood smears on the sheets and strip the bed and check under the mattress seams or ask the manager to organize for the housekeeper to do it for you,” Maureen Spencer, travel blogger, told USA TODAY. “Take photos of any evidence you find and ask for a room change.”

There’s no federal bedbug law, but 21 states do have bedbug-related legislation, according to the Environmental Protection Agency, like ensuring hotels are maintaining cleanliness and that hotels must exterminate bedbugs before housing different guests.

What should I do if I find bedbugs in my hotel room?
Step one: Panic! (Just kidding.)

“The very first thing that you should do if you encounter bedbugs in your hotel room, or even if you have a suspicion that there might be bedbugs in your room, is to pack up your stuff and place it as far away from the bedbug-infested places as possible,” Kristiana Kripena, digital and content marketing director for InsectCop tells USA TODAY. You want to avoid the bugs coming with you to your own house, she says.

You should also obviously notify hotel staff, but do your best to stay calm.

“Remember – this is never going to be something that hotel staff wants to hear,” Becca Siegel of travel blog and Instagram @halfhalftravel tells USA TODAY. “Actually, it’s the last thing they want to hear because it’s going to affect everyone staying in the hotel, their staff, their efforts in eradicating bedbugs and also their ratings online. Try to remain calm and empathetic.”

Also remember that what you think is a bedbug might not be one at all.

“I can’t tell you the number of times that a guest just sees a bug near a bed or on a bed and makes an assumption,” Victoria Agredo, a hospitality industry veteran, tells USA TODAY. “An untrained eye checking a room for themselves really isn’t that helpful. They may find something or they may create a panic over nothing.”

If they are indeed bedbugs, make sure you ask to be moved to a different room (and not one next to the one where you stayed).

Jordan Bishop, founder of consumer watchdog and travel website Yore Oyster, recommends sealing your clothes and other belongings in plastic bags and running them through a hot laundry cycle ASAP.

You can also use a garbage bag, and place that in a freezer overnight to get rid of bedbugs. For non-washable items, enlist a pest-management professional.

 

Books Are Being Returned to the Hampton (NH) Library With Bed Bugs

Books_Bedbugs 
WOKQ | by Chio Acosta | October 28, 2019

Bed Bugs in Books, YIKES, Hampton Library May Ban Users.  What’s a librarian to do?  Well, first they disinfect and make sure the pests do not spread, then the books are discarded and a pest control agency is brought in to determine that the library is safe, but the broader question is how do they stop it from happening.  Seacoastonline reports on the issue that all libraries are facing and the steps the Hampton Library is taking to prevent the problem.

While bed bugs are not known to carry disease, they are creepy crawlies that leave bed bug poop everywhere, have an annoying little bite that looks like a rash and can trigger severe allergies.  None of those are good things.  Amanda Reynolds Cooper, the Lane Memorial Library director, says the library trustees will now be given a policy to approve that would require those that return books with bed bugs to obtain documentation that their homes are safe and bed bug-free before gaining admittance to the library.  This seems like a commonsense procedure but there are a lot of issues in play with this proposed policy.

Libraries are open to the public for good reasons and it’s a First Amendment issue to deny someone access.  Many people use the library for research into job opportunities, research into healthcare issues and these community hubs are not just for the storage of ideas.  Free public access makes libraries a safe space for learning.  What if you are homeless and looking for resources?  How can you claim your living space is “pest-free?”  It will be interesting to see how this debate plays out if the policy is approved.  Stay tuned, the trustees will meet to approve or not allow the policy on November 13 per reporting from seacoastonline.