He spent months fighting bedbugs with sprays and fumigation, but the bedbug infestation at Lucas da Silva’s house only got worse. At the peak of its severity, da Silva could flip over his mattress in the middle of the day, and bedbugs would appear everywhere, crawling around as if they owned the joint.
Exterminators were expensive and none could guarantee that the appleseed-size verminwould disappear forever, said da Silva.
In frenzied desperation, da Silva, 23, of Orlando, Fla., took his Brazilian grandmother’s advice and turned to kerosene. She told her grandson that Brazilians use it to combat all sorts of vermin.
He doused his home. He covered bookcases, the upholstery, tables and chairs with the combustible hydrocarbon liquid.
But the kerosene offered only a week of relief until the bugs came back in droves.
After nearly two years of fighting the vermin, he and his family eventually threw away their mattresses and beds, and moved into a new home.
Still, even though da Silva now lives free of the parasites, the experience still haunts him.
“It’s like a phobia,” he said. “Sometimes I lay down at night and itch somewhere and get worried that I have bedbugs again, even though nothing is there.”
Da Silva might be pleased to learn that his feelings are not that unusual, according to a new study. Researchers found that bedbug infestation, and often the media frenzy surrounding the vermin, may increase the risk of mental health problems and exacerbate pre-existing psychiatric conditions.
“Bedbugs, mice, rats roaches — they’ve bothered human beings, and they have been around for many many years,” Dr. Evan Rieder, a psychiatrist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center and lead author of the study, told MedPage Today. “But there’s something about the sanctity of the bedroom and the bed and the fact that bedbugs are attracted to warmth and attracted to blood, because that’s how they feed, that really violates something that’s really personal to the human experience.”
Ten people, ranging in age from 21 to 75, participated in the study, but the researchers presented a detailed review of six of the 10 cases at the American Psychiatric Associationmeeting in Honolulu. After a bedbug infestation, some participants experienced anxiety, depression, controlled bipolar disorder and monosymptomatic delusional disorder in which one imagines that bugs are crawling all over the skin.
For other participants, it didn’t take an actual infestation to trigger anxiety and symptoms of paranoia. Rieder said some of them exhibited tactile hallucinations. Even though they did not have a history of an infestation nor a history of psychosis, the participants were convinced that bedbugs were crawling on their skin. Rieder said the swirling media coverage surrounding the vermin may play a part in the paranoia that surrounds this condition.
“If you look at the media on a global basis, bedbugs are all over the place, and the incidence in the media, in newspapers, magazines, TV reports, has been going up steadily since the year 2001, so there may be some media-driven frenzy,” Rieder told MedPage Today.
Bedbugs May Increase Risk of Mental Health Problems
Any doctor seeing patients with bedbug infestation and pre-existing psychoses “should be on alert,” Rieder said. “These people can decompensate even if they’ve been medically stable for a significant period of time.”
Researchers said it’s unclear why a bedbug infestation threatens the mental health of some more than others, but they hope to research the topic further, as bedbugs are not going away.
“Most people are very upset when they call us,” said Steve Nelson, a co-owner of Chemtech Exterminating Corp. in New York City. “They are on the phone, crying. It’s very disconcerting — a nightmare for most people.”
Nelson said that he and other exterminators often act as stand-in psychologists, reassuring the customers that they will help them get through this mentally exhausting ordeal.
“People are … taking their home and turning it upsidedown,” said Nelson. “We feel bad, but we tell them we’re there to help and we reassure them that we will get rid of the problem.”
As for da Silva, he said he empathized and understood why bedbugs may wreak havoc on a person’s psyche.
“You’re living in a house where you’re not at peace,” said da Silva. “Then you barely sleep and you wake up and you’re tired. That could definitely have a huge impact on anxiety and depression.”
While da Silva didn’t need psychiatric help to manage his bedbug storm, the experience is not over for him.
“It’s always in the back of my mind,” he said. “Even though they’re gone, I worry that a friend might have them, and it’ll just be brought right back to the house. All of a sudden, they’re everywhere.”
- Nursing homes – 58 percent (46 percent in 2013)
- Office buildings – 45 percent (36 percent in 2013)
- Schools and day care centers – 43 percent (41 percent in 2013)
- Hospitals – 36 percent (33 percent in 2013)
- Doctor’s offices/outpatient facilities – 33 percent (26 percent in 2013)
- Transportation (train/bus/taxi) – 29 percent (21 percent in 2013)
- Retail stores – 20 percent (15 percent in 2013)
- Movie theaters – 16 percent (10 percent in 2013)
March 28, 2016 |by Susan Abram | Daily News, Los Angeles
This insect bites people near the lips or eyes, inserts bacteria, then about 20 years later, the victim suffers a heart attack. Olive View-UCLA Medical Center is working to help detect Chagas. The clinic is holding community screenings across the San Fernando Valley to find people who may be infected.
Some call it the kissing bug because it leaves a painless bite near a sleeping person’s lips.
But among health experts, including those from the federal government, the cone-headed Triatomine is no prince awakening a sleeping beauty. It’s an assassin, because it leaves behind a parasite in its love bite that can be deadly.
Photos of the dime-size insect hang inside Dr. Sheba Meymandi’s medical office as if on a wanted poster. The bug, she said, carries the Chagas disease, which can cause heart failure if left untreated.
An estimated 300,000 people across the United States may have Chagas disease, Meymandi said, and the only place in the nation where it’s treated is the clinic she oversees at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar. Started in 2007, the Chagas clinic has treated 200 people, but Meymandi and her team said they are ready to take on more patients.
That’s why she and her staff are working with primary physicians at the four hospitals and 19 health clinics overseen by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. In addition, Providence Health & Services will offer Chagas screenings at a dozen free health clinics on Sundays at churches across the San Fernando Valley for the rest of the year. An upcoming screening will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. April 3 at New Hope of the Nazarene, 15055 Oxnard St, Van Nuys, California.
“It’s very clear that we need to diagnose early and treat early before the onset of complications,” said Meymandi, a cardiologist. Ten percent of those with Chagas suffer from heart failure, one of the most expensive conditions to treat, costing $32 billion year nationwide, she said. That figure could rise to $70 billion by 2030.
Chagas disease was once considered exotic, but more is known about it now than about the Zika virus. Still, most people have no idea they have it or, once they do, lack information about where to receive treatment, Meymandi said.
The disease is most common in rural Mexico and Latin America, researchers have said, adding that it kills more people in South America than malaria.Meymandi said anyone who was born in Mexico or South America should have a blood test.
But U.S.-born residents also are infected. The insect is present in more than 20 states. At least 40 percent of raccoons tested in Griffith Park carried Chagas disease, Meymandi said.
“Most of the people we see and treat in the U.S. have had it for decades,” Meymandi said. “We have the bug here, we have the parasite here. You can definitely acquire Chagas in the United States.”
An infected insect, which hides in dwellings made from mud, adobe, straw or palm thatch, crawls out at night to feed on blood. It is called the kissing bug because it feeds on a sleeper’s face, then defecates on the wound, leaving a parasite behind.
Infection takes place when the parasite enters the body through mucous membranes or broken skin, caused when the sleeper scratches the wound, eyes or mouth, according to the federal Centers for Disease and Prevention. The parasite can lie dormant for years, then cause heart disease, and if not found and treated, death.
Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, body aches, headaches, rash, loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. But sometimes there are no symptoms until decades later.
Only two drugs exist to treat Chagas disease, and neither is approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration yet, though both can be provided through the CDC, Meymandi said.
“It’s very simple to treat,” Meymandi said. “But the process to go get the drugs is a challenge.”
Jose Duran, a Bellflower resident, said he learned he had Chagas disease after he tried to donate blood seven months ago. He said he would have never known he had Chagas disease otherwise. He had no symptoms.
“I went to donate blood for the first time, because I heard it was good for you to donate once in a while,” he said. Then he received a phone call.
It’s not uncommon for people to learn they have Chagas disease after donating blood, Meymandi and others said. In 2006, the Red Cross isolated 21 cases of Chagas in Southern California donors. In 2007, the figure more than doubled to 46. In 2008, there were 55 cases.
The National Red Cross would not provide additional figures.
“I got scared. I was like, wow, what is this?” the 40 year old Duran said of his reaction,when he learned what he had.
As a child, Duran lived on a ranch in Querétaro, a small state in north-central Mexico. His brother also tested positive for Chagas. He doesn’t remember being bitten, he said.
Duran was referred to the Chagas clinic and, after two months of treatment, learned Thursday he was in good health.
“Most people don’t know they have this,” he said. “If they get tested, they can get well.”
March 21, 2016 | by Julie Botero | WRVO Public Media
Bedbugs, those creepy crawly pests that embed themselves into mattresses and furniture, are a problem in big cities across the country. The bugs have managed to find their way to smaller cities in the North Country.
Watertown is now dealing with the pests and the stigma that comes with them.
Back in September, a friend told me she was dealing with a serious bed bug issue. Her name is Kris Rusho and I gave her a call a few weeks ago to get the whole story.
“I happened to wake up early one morning — about 5:30 in the morning — and I looked down and I saw a bug on my arm and I smashed it with my hand and my hand came away with blood. My first thought was it was tick, but I started doing some research and found out those were bedbugs,” Rusho said. “I went to my car and cried.”
“I think what I’ve learned from this is that bedbugs can be in the nicest of houses,” she said.
She may be the unluckiest renter in Toronto.
Kathleen says bedbugs have forced her to move 11 times in the past six years.
The 45-year-old doesn’t even want her last name used because she says she’s already lost one job over the tiny critters.
“I was a normal person, I had a job and a nice apartment and this has completely broken my life,” she said.
She claims she first picked them up in 2010 after volunteering at a community centre in Regent Park.
That marked the beginning of a “downward spiral.”
Kathleen says she lost her job because she “made the mistake” of coming clean with her employers.
“I literally walked away with nothing but my health card in some cases, just trying to completely rid myself of them, only to end up in other buildings that were also infested,” she explained.
Now she lives outside of Toronto and wants all three levels of government — and the scientific community — to recognize bedbugs are a “national crisis.”
That’s why she spent Friday with placards outside City Hall, demanding more action in the battle against bedbugs.
“I went through all the proper protocol,” Kathleen said. “This isn’t a landlord and tenant issue anymore.”
She even had a friend — a private landlord from St. Catharines — dress up like a brown bedbug called Badness the Bedbug, which attracted curious looks from passersby.
The city’s website says if a landlord refuses to help with bedbugs, the tenant can contact a legal clinic, the landlord and tenant board, or Toronto Public Health.
A woman was hospitalized after a medical emergency turned into a health and safety inspection in her Central Lubbock home Thursday.
Lubbock Fire Rescue responded to the home at the 4900 block of 38th Street early Thursday afternoon. Crews discovered a bed bug infestation in the woman’s bedroom, and contacted Code Enforcement.
City workers arrived to inspect the home, and it was revealed that there was trash around the house, unsanitary conditions, and un-permitted work, according to Stuart Walker, Director of Code Administration with the City of Lubbock.
“[There was] rubbish in the yard, things like that that the fire department wanted to make us aware of. So we went out and addressed those issues, and we’ll follow up on that case in the future and make sure that everything gets corrected,” Walker said.
He said his department generally does not respond to bed bug calls, but due to the condition of the home, the City deemed the home “uninhabitable.”
“We call codes for a number of different type of calls,” said LFR Division Chief Steve Holland.
“It’s a public and safety issue,” he added. “Codes needed to come and look and see if there was anything big enough for public health and safety [violations].”
Adult Protective Services was also notified of the situation, and a relative of the woman who rents the home, said a representative came to the home to evaluate the woman’s living conditions.
That family member said the woman was removed from the residence by law enforcement and taken to a local hospital for evaluation after refusing to leave the property. Her medical condition was not publicly known as of Thursday evening.
Walker recommended contacting a local pest control company with concerns about bugs.
“If you’ve got an infestation in your house, contact a private pest control operator, find out what the best solution is. If you’ve got issues with your house, you’re more than welcome to give us a call. There are some programs in the community and programs with the city that if you qualify, you may get some assistance as far as making repairs,” Walker said.
The phone number for the City of Lubbock is (806) 775-3000. The city also facilitates the 2-1-1 phone service to put residents in touch with social service agencies.
February 25, 2016 | by Stephen Moyes | The Sun
A BRITISH Airways jet infested with bed bugs was allowed to keep flying as there was no time to disinfect it, staff claim.
Cabin crew logged the issue because passengers were bitten but bosses decided to keep the aircraft in service.
Staff hit out after the critters were spotted on a Boeing 747 from the US to Heathrow last week.
One passenger was nipped at 30,000ft and others saw the bugs and their eggs.
The problem was so serious that row 47 in the economy section was closed. But BA workers claim engineers did not have time to kill the creatures between flights.
The plane took off again and crew again had to deal with the bugs. Days later another “severe” infestation was reported as the jet flew from Cape Town to London.Last night it was claimed bugs were also seen on other flights by the 747 — now fully fumigated.
One passenger said: “This turns my stomach.”
A BA spokesman said: “Reports of bed bugs on board are extremely rare. Nevertheless, we continually monitor our aircraft.”
BED bugs are small blood-sucking insects that live in cracks and crevices in and around beds or chairs.
Attracted by body heat and carbon dioxide, they bite exposed skin and feed on blood. Adult bed bugs look like lentils, oval, flat and up to 5mm long.
An infestation from one female can rise to 5,000 bed bugs in six months.
Mark Krafft last year took pics of bites he said he suffered on BA, below.
A BA spokesman said: “Whenever any report of bed bugs is received, we launch a thorough investigation and, if appropriate, remove the aircraft from service and use specialist teams to treat it.
“The presence of bed bugs is an issue faced occasionally by hotels and airlines all over the world.
“British Airways operates more than 280,000 flights every year, and reports of bed bugs on board are extremely rare.
“Nevertheless, we are vigilant about the issue and continually monitor our aircraft.”
February 26, 2016 | by Clover Hope | Jezebel
A British Airways plane was taken out of service last week after bed bugs were discovered when the crew tried to stuff extra large carry-ons into an overhead compartment.
Since the bugs (two of them) were found between flights, in row 47, the crew claims it wasn’t able to remove them in time.
“This isn’t a bed… It’s a plane!” one bug reportedly said to the other.
Cabin crew logged the issue because passengers were bitten but bosses decided to keep the aircraft in service.
Staff hid out after the critters were spotted on a Boeing 747 from the US to Heathrow last week.
One passenger was nipped at 30,000ft and others saw the bugs and their eggs.
A spokeswoman for British Airways told Mashable otherwise: “We wouldn’t let a plane continue to fly if we knew it had an issue.” Hmmm.
The plane was later fumigated, but it’s more likely the bugs decided to disembark on their own after realizing the plane wasn’t a bed.
The company rep adds, “Whenever any report of bed bugs is received, we launch a thorough investigation and, if appropriate, remove the aircraft from service and use specialist teams to treat it—this happened in this instance.”
The New York Times | by Ronda Kaysen | November 21, 2014
Q. My wife and I recently signed a one-year lease for an apartment. It included a rider stating that all apartments in our building had been bedbug-free for at least one year before our move-in date. After we moved in, we learned from the superintendent that an apartment in our building had been infested by bedbugs and treated a few weeks before our move-in date. Needless to say, we were disturbed by this news — and want to know our rights. As we understand it, the landlord is responsible for the costs of fumigating. Who is responsible for other expenses, like replacing mattresses and furniture? Since we were misled (and have the signed rider as proof), can we demand remuneration for any repairs or replacement costs we might be forced to incur?
A. There are two plausible explanations for what happened here, neither of them good. Either your landlord was woefully ill-informed about the state of the building or he lied. In either case, I would be concerned about how effectively the infested apartment was treated for bedbugs, which are notoriously hardy creatures.
“If this is a landlord who is willing to lie on a disclosure form,” said David Hershey-Webb, a lawyer who represents tenants, “then the tenants may not have a lot of faith in the landlord to adequately address the bedbug problem.”
The New York City administrative code requires landlords to disclose whether or not an apartment has been treated for bedbugs in the last year. The measure does not include any penalties for violating the law. However, if you do get bedbugs and incur damage to your personal property, you could take the landlord to small claims court and use that erroneous disclosure form as evidence of negligence. Under normal circumstances, a landlord is required to treat the infestation and a tenant is responsible for cleaning personal belongings, Mr. Hershey-Webb said.
But before we wander too far down the road of future infestations, determine your risk. If the affected apartment is adjacent to yours or in the same line, you have good reason for concern. But if several floors and walls separate you from that apartment, your risk is considerably lower.
“If it’s an immediately adjacent unit or if it’s in that line, it could have an effect,” said Gil Bloom, the president of Standard Pest Management and an entomologist. “Outside of that, it normally does not make a difference.”
Once you have assessed your risk, decide whether you want to stay in the apartment. Ultimately, you might want to consider packing up your belongings and moving out before the bugs move in. You “have the option to try to rescind the lease on the basis of fraud,” Mr. Hershey-Webb said. Consult with a lawyer to see if you can get out of the lease. Otherwise, you may find yourself battling a bedbug infestation with a dishonest landlord.