A HAMPSHIRE mother has told how a bed bug infestation left her feeling suicidal and in thousands of pounds of debt.
Jade Carr, 28, from Sholing in Southampton, said the parasites have returned three times over the last eight years to the council block where she lives, forcing her to spend “thousands” on treatments and replacing furniture destroyed by the creatures.
The mother of two – who is currently expecting her third child – told the Daily Echo that trying to control the pests has “ruined her career” and caused her children to be bullied at school.
Ms Carr said she first found out the bugs were infesting the Dempsey Close block when her six-year-old daughter woke up with bites on her arms and legs four years ago.
However, after speaking to other residents it transpired that one neighbour had been living with the bugs for at least four years prior to that.
Ms Carr claims she was forced to sleep on an inflatable mattress and at times had to stay with friends in attempts to escape the bugs.
She said: “Me and the kids were living on a blow up mattress in the living room for six months because the bugs can’t lay dormant on them.
“It ruined my life.
“I had to spend all the money I’d saved to buy a little car and set up a mobile hairdressing business.”
Ms Carr claims she is now in around £3,000 worth of debt and behind with her rent because of the ongoing problem which has returned this month.
Dempsey Close neighbour Becky Atkins, 27, a single mum with three children aged ten, 15 months and three months has lived in the same block as Ms Carr for seven years and said the bugs left her sons legs covered in bites.
She said: “Environmental health came out and checked twice and said I had nothing.
“I was going for tests at hospital and they couldn’t work out what it was – they thought it was a rash and I even had tests on my liver.
“Then we got someone else in to check and they said the sofa was smothered in them, they were in every room.
“It’s ongoing. I’ve chucked out four of my son’s beds two of mine, four Moses baskets, four sofas, all the curtains, I’ve got no carpets upstairs.”
Lisa Veal, single mum-of-two living in the same block said two years ago the infestation was “very very bad,” and left her “shocked and upset.”
Despite the residents’ repeated complaints to the council the block remains riddled with the parasites.
However, a Southampton city council spokesperson said: “Our pest control team was called to a property in Dempsey Close in April 2015 to address a bed bug problem following a call from one of our tenants. We carried out a course of treatments to resolve the problem which in this case was at no cost to the tenant. We have received no further contact on this issue since that time.
“Southampton City Council’s Tenancy Agreement clearly states that it is the responsibility of the tenant to keep the property free from pests and vermin and not to encourage their presence.
“However, where it can be demonstrated that the tenant is not responsible for the infestation the council may consider paying for the treatment.
“The final decision is always made by the council following the advice of our Pest Control Team.”
According to one Hampshire pest control company, bed bugs are on the rise.
Information on the JG Pest Control website says: “Bed bugs are on the rise – their numbers have increased significantly over the past 10 years.
“As the pests reached the brink of extinction, cheap air travel allowed people to visit destinations where the bugs still thrived; bringing them back to towns and cities in the UK.
“Problems with bed bugs in Hampshire stem from the overly populated area, as well as the sheer amount of hotels, hostels and shared housing.
“In heavy infestations, a build-up of faeces may result in streams of blood on material when water or chemicals are added.
“Bedbug faeces are often found in the bed frame itself and headboards.
“Once matured, bed bugs can be seen, ranging in size between an apple pip and a small finger nails. Bed bugs shed their skin leaving static shells that look like bugs.
“These are a good indicator of an infestation being present over some time.
“In later stages bed bugs omit a strong, sweet odour; not too dissimilar to almonds.
“Bedding should be stripped and washed on a cycle above 60°C.”