By Megan Schuller
Eric Ginnard – eginnardWshowmedia.com
A Joliet woman nearly lost her arm after contracting an infection and blood disease she claims came from a bedbug bite.
Princess Johnson, a resident of the John F. Kennedy public housing building, said she has been dealing with bedbugs since she moved in a year ago, but her compliance came with a cost.
Johnson, 58, was bitten about a month ago and was hospitalized for several days, fighting the infection. Her left hand swelled to more than twice its normal size, and she complained of pain and tenderness in her arm.
Johnson said she alerted building management to her problem.
“I took pictures of the bugs and took it down there and [management] still didn’t do anything,” Johnson said.
Johnson recently returned to the hospital because of stiffness in her arm that alarmed her. She plans to see a blood doctor. She said she spends about $80 dollars a month on preventive measures to help keep the bedbugs at bay.
“You have to spray. The maintenance man told me to close up the vent in the bathroom. All the sockets I’m not using I put duct-tape over,” Johnson said.
Mark Jakielski, the chief operating officer of the Housing Authority of Joliet, said that typically people do not contract infections from bedbugs, which he called “mainly just a nuisance with the feeding and scabbing.”
Dr. Atul Gupta, an infectious disease physician and the chair of infection control at Presence Saint Joseph Medical Center, did not treat Johnson but said that typically the best way to tend to bites is to simply care for the wounds.
“There are no specific blood
diseases or infections that are associated with bedbug bites. Any insect bite or any break in the skin can become infected, but this is not specific to bedbugs,” Gupta said.
Johnson is waiting to find out what her medical bills will amount to. She said that her insurance plans on fighting over the bills with the Joliet Housing Authority.
“I had to leave (the housing authority’s John C. Murphy building) because it was so bad. I was there for two years. It was bad there and here, People walk around all eaten up,” Johnson said. “People ain’t going to do anything about it. People are too scared to talk.”
Johnson plans to eventually move out of the JFK building.
“I’m going to spend my whole check,” she said. “I get $730 a month and I found a $600 place. I can’t stand living within the housing authority, because I can’t be getting bit up like this.”
Johnson claims the last time she was bitten was June 21. Jakielski had Johnson’s apartment inspected after being contacted by The Herald-News and said that it was cleared of any type of insect.
John Chow, the chief of development and operations for the Housing Authority of Joliet, urged tenants in all the properties to report problems because once there is a report “the clock starts” to getting it taken care of.
“There were 90 cases in JFK confirmed and unconfirmed. It’s in our best interest to know right away. For whatever reason, some don’t report right away. When we know, we jump on it,” Chow said.