Bed Bugs On The Rise, Despite Covid-19, New Study Suggests

FORBES – by Alex Ledsom, Senior Contributor – August 1, 2020

Bed bug feeding on human skin.

A new study concluded this week that bed bugs were such a problem in France that they now pose a national health hazard.

The creatures have been on the rise globally but in the past decade, bed bugs have proliferated–they are now found in every U.S. state and countries across Europe have seen huge infestations, notably Paris (which is the number one visited capital in the world).

At the beginning of 2020, the French Union for Pest Control stated that, “France’s bed bug problem has seen the number of cases go from 180,000 to 400,000 in just two years”.

The French government website states that they arrived in France in the 1950s with the advent of international travel and have proliferated because of their increasing resistance to insecticide. It says that bedrooms and living rooms are predominantly more affected.

New York Times article suggested that 1 in 5 Americans have been plagued by bed bugs or know someone who has. Washington DC, Baltimore, Chicago and Los Angeles were the most plagued.

Bed bugs, sex, and drugs: Records detail problems at Toledo adult care homes

 The Blade logo

A Blade review of hundreds of pages of public records found that 35 individuals suffering from mental health and addiction disorders were removed from six adult care homes in Toledo as a result of concerns about poor living conditions and possible criminal behavior.

The documents, obtained by The Blade through Ohio’s public records law, provide insight into how unscheduled inspections of the homes in Toledo in December and January raised questions about residents’ access to basic care and fundamental necessities. State and local social service officials performed the unannounced inspections after they received complaints about violence, unsanitary living conditions, and even individuals in one home being sex trafficked.

State reports show inspectors found some residents weren’t being fed three meals a day. Others claimed they were assaulted by group home employees. Bed bugs infested every bedroom of one home; while in a second location investigators found broken glass, a chicken carcass uncovered on a plate in the refrigerator, a room that smelled like urine, and a mattress flanked by used condoms in the backyard.

Now authorities are trying to determine next steps, while operators of the homes in question are pushing back against what they say are unfair accusations about conditions and safety, and the improper decision to displace residents from homes where, in some cases, they had lived for more than a decade.

 Reverend Otis Gordon looks at the agenda during planning and oversight committee meeting held by the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County in Toledo on Tuesday February 11, 2020.

Lucas County Mental Health Board takes next steps in group home relocations

State Department of Health officials have largely declined to discuss the case, while the Mental Health and Recovery Services Board of Lucas County has defended the removals, arguing conditions found in the homes were dangerous.

Some elected leaders and mental health service advocates and experts, meanwhile, are calling for better oversight of adult care homes, which total 112 in Lucas County.

Terry Russell is director of Ohio Adult Care Facilities Association, a Columbus-based nonprofit that works with group home operators to improve care and services for residents. He believes that operators have for years been left alone to fend off the many problems that can arise when caring for mentally ill individuals. State officials must do more to ensure such homes are clean and safe, and operators are supported, he said.

“Sometimes we treat the mentally ill like commodities,” Mr. Russell said in response to the allegations surfacing in Toledo. “The mental health system has just ignored them.”

‘Imminent danger’

The Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services oversees the state’s adult care home program. The program aims to provide community-based housing opportunities to adults who suffer from mental and developmental disabilities, addiction, and other issues.

The homes, usually found among common neighborhoods, are operated by private citizens or enterprises, working under state licenses. Operators must renew their license every two years, according to state law. Home inspections are done annually, each time a licensee seeks renewal, and whenever a complaint, whether anonymous or by caseworkers and guardians, is filed with the state.

The home at 68 San Rafael in Toledo on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020. The mental health services department has relocated 35 people from six homes adult group homes in Lucas County due to poor living conditions.

35 Toledo group home residents relocated due to poor living conditions

Operators must adhere to several regulations, including providing three meals a day, thoroughly and routinely cleaning homes, and ensuring adequate staffing.

It was complaints about such requirements that led county officials along with the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, beginning in December, to conduct unannounced visits to eight homes in Lucas County. Eventually residents from six of those homes, all in Toledo, were removed.

Scott Sylak, the director of the Lucas County mental health board, said Ohio Revised Code gives his department authority to take action when residents are in “imminent danger.”

“I’m concerned for the health and safety of our clients which fall under our governing,” he said. “But, I’m also concerned about the providers and the operators and helping them. … We need them. We need to do a better job of supporting them and they need to do a better job of following through on the licensing requirements and addressing the issues that they know they need to address.”

Lori Criss, director of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, declined to discuss specifics of the individual cases.

“In general, we view residential care facilities as an important part of the continuum of people staying in the community,” she said. “It’s a service we value. We’re working with stakeholders right now on how we can improve residential care facilities.”

San Rafael Avenue

The state conducted an unannounced  visit on Jan. 17 to a group home located at 68 San Rafael Ave. in South Toledo after receiving a complaint that two women living in the four-person home were being sex trafficked. State and local mental health officials inspected the home alongside Toledo police and Lucas County sheriff’s deputies.

Inspectors on site talked to residents — unnamed in inspection reports — who said two female residents would often have “strange men” in the home and would often use drugs. Those same residents  reported their concerns to owner Clara Brank, who operates Clara Mae’s Adult Family Home, LLC.

“One resident reported that she is afraid due to the strange men in the home and one of the other residents threatened her for telling the owner what was happening,” according to a state investigation summary. “The facility owner reported that she was aware that two of the residents were having men come into the group home and she contacted case managers and gave the residents [30-day vacate notices], but did not increase supervision in the homes to ensure the safety and well-being of all…”

Sgt. Paul Davis, a spokesman for the police department, said a detective at the scene determined no one at the home was being sex trafficked, however, at least one woman was “having sex in exchange for drugs and money.”

Officials found and documented other concerns during their visit, too.

Records from the inspection accuse Ms. Brank of not providing three meals a day to residents as required by the state. Inspectors found a chicken carcass uncovered on a plate in the refrigerator, and a room in the house smelled like urine. Broken glass was observed in some areas of the house and a mattress flanked by used condoms was observed in the backyard. Residents also reported Ms. Brank only came by twice a day to bring food and pass out medications, according to state documents.

Following the inspection at 68 San Rafael, Mr. Sylak and state officials decided as a precaution to relocate residents from there, and from Ms. Brank’s other group home, located at 72 San Rafael Ave.

Ms. Brank, when reached by The Blade last week, said she “has enough supervision” at the home on 68 San Rafael Ave., but declined further comment.

“I’d rather not say anything right now,” she said.

Previously, Ms. Brank told The Blade the problems at the home started after she agreed to house an individual who was released from jail on the basis that state and local officials would help her monitor the resident. After breaking house rules, the resident received a 30-day vacate notice and was supposed to be gone by Feb. 2, Ms. Brank said, but then on Jan. 17, authorities relocated residents from the two San Rafael properties.

“I’ve been sick. I’m depressed,” she said on Jan. 30. “I didn’t do anything wrong. Why am I being closed?”

Mr. Sylak said he doesn’t have the authority to “close down” the homes and added that the state will go through a process to determine the status of affected operators’ licenses.

Douglas and Clover 

Several reported issues led officials to Delores Place III, a group home at 3521 Douglas Rd.

A resident there accused a staff member of assault after a dinnertime argument. According to state documents, the resident left the dining room area after the argument and was followed by the employee, who barged through a door and tackled the resident onto a bed. The resident cut his head on a nearby window, an injury that required staples, according to the report.

The report says the staff member did not offer assistance to the resident and a family member then came to the group home to take the resident to the hospital. The report also accuses facility owner Tracy Price of asking the resident not to file a police report “due to not having another staff member available to work.” The employee and the resident subsequently filed police reports against each other.

Attempts to reach Ms. Price were not successful.

During an unannounced complaint-based visit on Dec. 20, 2019, inspectors found live bed bugs in every bedroom, facility operators only providing one meal to residents each day, and expired food made available to residents. The facility’s license had expired 10 months earlier on Feb 2, 2019, and the state never received a renewal application, records show.

Ms. Price also owns homes at 5565 and 5238 Clover Lane. Residents from those houses were relocated because of concerns about supervision. Live bed bugs and “bed bug excrement,” were also found on mattresses inside the homes, according to reports.

Tom Johnson, who lives next door to the home at 5238 Clover, told The Blade he and other neighbors have had to call the city about trash in the backyard, which caused rats to appear.

Mr. Johnson said he worries residents are often without food and he will offer them vegetables from his garden.

“Those people don’t deserve to be treated like that,” he said.

Hadley Homes

At 2262 Collingwood Blvd., complaint-based visits were conducted on Jan. 3 and Jan. 7 after a resident alleged the operator’s son “beat him” and told him he would be thrown out of the facility.

Durell McGhee runs the 14-person adult care home under his Hadley Homes LLC. He said he didn’t learn about that complaint until he received a letter from the state on Feb. 10. He told The Blade he immediately fired his son once he got the letter — but that was 33 days after the incident. Mr. McGhee said he was in the dark during that time, wondering why residents were removed from the home.

“When I found out what the problem was I fired him immediately,” Mr. McGhee said. “They never told us a reason. If I would have known, I would have fired him right then.”

Mr. McGhee said he’s now working to better train new employees and taking other preventative steps so future problems don’t occur. But Mr. McGhee also believes county officials are “overstepping” by removing residents from the homes.

“What they’re doing is wrong,” Mr. McGhee said. “The county is totally out of order. There were people there 15 years, crying, asking them not to take them.”

Mr. Sylak defended the decision to remove residents in order to keep them safe. He also said the residents all moved willingly and voluntarily.

“We’re always going to protect people when we believe their health or safety is in imminent danger,” he said.

Attempts by The Blade to contact adult care home residents were unsuccessful.

As of Monday, no criminal charges had been filed in relation to the adult care home complaints and inspections.

Since the removals, the operators of the affected homes have been given until Thursday to provide the state a written plan that identifies how owners “will correct, or have corrected each finding,” records show.

Eric Wandersleben, a spokesman for the Ohio mental health department, said the state will then check compliance with the corrective plans through follow-up site visits.

“If the providers are still out of compliance, the department has the authority to take further action,” he said.

Mr. Russell  feels more resources need to be provided to support operators who provide adequate living conditions for residents.

Toledo city councilmen Larry Sykes and Yvonne Harper put the blame more pointedly at the state level. Both said state officials need to be doing more to regulate such homes, and ensure those who live in them receive quality care.

“The state needs to be held accountable,” Mr. Sykes said. “They need to reassess their policies. There’s a lot of questions that need to be asked.”

The Lucas County mental health board will hold a regularly scheduled monthly meeting Tuesday at 4 p.m. at 701 Adams St.

The Odor You Smelled May Be Warning You Of Bed Bugs Infestation

INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES | January 8, 2020 |By Snow Digon 

  • Bed bugs are a problem that  confronts thousands of homes all over the world
  • There are certain signs that will tell you of an ongoing infestation
  • You might have already “smelled” the distinct odor that denotes the existence of bed bugs

Sometimes, you can tell what room you are in just by its smell. Kitchens normally emit the scent of food, while bathrooms usually take on the smell of soap. Smelling a musty odor in your bedroom, however, is something else and should cause you to worry.

One of the biggest problems a home could have is the proliferation of bed bugs. While you may keep your rooms clean at all times, the parasites which may have stuck to your clothes as you sat on the train could spread in your house. In fact, bed bugs that can invade your house may come not only from train seats but also from planes, hotels, and many other places.

In general, bed bugs would take seven weeks to grow from an egg into an adult. This means that if you discover a bed bug infestation in one of the rooms in your house, it may have been there for over seven weeks.

To make matters worse, studies have shown that these tiny parasites have developed resistance to several chemical treatments. This makes their eradication or elimination a bit difficult.

Since the late 1990s, the spread of bed bugs has been increasing at a rapid pace. Today, there is practically no country on the planet that does not have a bed bug problem.bed bugs, signs, odorbed bugs, signs, odor Photo: danydory – Pixabay

Households in the UK report an unabated increase in bed bug infestation since the year 2006. Compounding the problem is the failure of many residents to report bed bug infestation in their homes because of shame.
What these residents do instead is to buy do-it-yourself chemical treatments and make an attempt to get rid of the parasites themselves. While there may have been a few that became successful at this effort, most have failed.

A Rapid Increase

Bed bug infestations start when a mated female managed to sneak inside your home. They then lay eggs at a pace of around three per day. If there is sufficient food available, that is, the blood on your body, they may be able to lay over 300 eggs in the female bug’s lifetime. According to Colonial Pest Control, their tiny white eggs oftentimes are stuck to isolated surfaces and usually near a host. They hatch within ten days.

They need approximately a month and a half to two months to transform from an egg to an adult bed bug that can mate. They then live for approximately ten months to more than a year, even without a host.

A Telltale Smell

You can always tell if there’s a bed bug infestation in one of the rooms in your house. Like many other bug species, these tiny parasites emit odors referred to as alarm pheromones. When they get disturbed, you may start noticing a sweet or musty odor; in some instances, it may smell like coriander. This odor may also be coming from the bugs’ fecal material. Bed bugs have been found to be very sociable, and oftentimes, male adults want to mate with females constantly.

Getting Rid Of the Parasites

It is highly recommended to regularly clean linens, beddings, curtains, clothing, and similar materials in hot water. You also need to set your dryer setting to maximum when drying the clothes and other materials.

For mattresses, you need to use a stiff brush to remove bed eggs and bugs off the seams before vacuuming them. You also need to vacuum the bed and its surrounding area frequently. If there are cracks in plaster around the bed, try to immediately repair them so they will not serve as hiding places for the parasites.

OUCH! Actress, husband sue Princess Cruises over alleged bedbug incident

foxBy Janine Puhak | January 16, 2020

Ouch!

An actress who appeared in the film “Marriage Story” and her husband have filed a lawsuit against Princess Cruises, alleging that they suffered such “horrific” exposure to bedbugs during a recent cruise that the woman had to be hospitalized for treatment.

“Marriage Story” actor Connie Flores and her husband Alvin Flores have claimed that they were attacked by the pesky critters during a November cruise from Los Angeles to Mexico, NBC San Diego reports. The couple were traveling on the Emerald Princess ship to celebrate their anniversary over Thanksgiving weekend.

Connie Marie Flores arrives at the Premiere Of Netflix's

Connie Marie Flores arrives at the Premiere Of Netflix’s “Marriage Story” at DGA Theater on November 5, 2019 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic)

The Flores’ said in a recent statement that the bugs “feasted” on them while they slept in an “infested” stateroom, sharing photos of their heads, arms and legs covered in red bumps.

“Imagine yourself on a cruise at sea with your stateroom infested with bedbugs. There was nowhere to go. We were trapped. We felt helpless. There were bedbugs coming out of the pillows and the mattress, we felt betrayed,” Connie claimed.

An image the aftermath from of the alleged bedbug attack.

An image the aftermath from of the alleged bedbug attack. (My Bed Bug Lawyer)

The couple said that they notified the on-board medical staff of the bedbug issue and demanded a relocation to a new room, but the Princess Cruises employees delayed their urgent request.

“They simply were negligent in providing safe premises,” said attorney Brian Virag, founder of the law firm My Bed Bug Lawyer, which is representing the couple in court.

Now, the Flores’ complaint seeks $75,000 in damages for financial loss and personal injury as well as emotional and mental distress in a jury trial, according to NBC.

An image of the aftermath from the alleged bedbug attack.

An image of the aftermath from the alleged bedbug attack. (My Bed Bug Lawyer)

“This was a horrific experience, and no one should ever go through such pain and trauma,” Connie said. “This ordeal has prompted us to be advocates and bring awareness to people who have been exposed to bed bugs.”

A spokesperson for Princess Cruises told Fox News that the cruise line is “limited” regarding what information can be shared about the open suit, but maintained that their employees are “highly trained to identify bedbugs” in staterooms, which are “ALL thoroughly inspected” each month.

An image of the aftermath from the alleged bedbug attack.

An image of the aftermath from the alleged bedbug attack. (My Bed Bug Lawyer)

“We were very sorry to hear about Ms. Flores concerns,” said a cruise line representative. “Princess Cruises is committed to following and often exceed stringent sanitation and health guidelines. Given that this is an open lawsuit, we are limited in what information we can share right now, however it is worth noting, our room attendants are highly trained to identify bedbugs and ALL staterooms are thoroughly inspected each month as a preventative measure.”

“By virtue of how the cruise vacation experience is designed our staterooms receive considerably more cleaning attention by our room attendants than a hotel room on land (twice a day, including evening turn-down service along with a thorough cleaning – including changing linen at the end of each cruise),” they said.

“It would be highly unusual for the presence of bedbugs to go un-noticed for more than the length of one cruise.”

Virag said in the statement that roughly one in every five Americans has either personally experienced bedbugs or knows someone who has.

Hollywood Actress Trapped On A Cruise Ship With Bed Bugs: MYBEDBUGLAWYER™ Files Lawsuit

LOS ANGELESJan. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — MYBEDBUGLAWYERTM, the nation’s leading law firm for Bed Bug Litigation has filed a lawsuit on behalf of Connie Flores and her husband Alvin, against Princess Cruises Line over the couple’s horrific exposure in a stateroom infested by bed bugs during a recent cruise from Los Angeles to MexicoConnie Flores is an actress who has recently appeared in the Oscar Nominated Netflix film Marriage Story.MYBEDBUGLAWYER

“Imagine yourself on a cruise at sea with your stateroom infested with bed bugs. There was nowhere to go. We were trapped. We felt helpless. There were bed bugs coming out of the pillows and the mattress, we felt betrayed,” said Mrs. Flores.

Blood can be seen on the pillows while bed bugs crawl under the mattress, as shown by the video the couple recorded. The bed bugs feasted on Connie and her husband as they slept. The bites were so severe that it landed Mrs. Flores in the hospital. Her husband remains traumatized by the entire incident, said Brian Virag, Founder of MYBEDBUGLAWYERTM.2

The emotional suffering, however, continues to be the bigger nightmare for our clients. They continue to relive waking up in the middle of the night imagining bed bugs sucking the blood from their body as they slept, added Virag.

“After this ordeal, I wanted to advocate and bring awareness to people who get exposed to bed bugs. No one should have to go through what we experienced,” said Mrs. Flores.

According to the lawsuit filed in Federal Court in Los Angeles (Case Number 2:19cv09961) by MYBEDBUGLAWYERTM and Law Offices of Aksana Coone (maritime cruise ship injury attorney), the cruise ship knew or should have known of the bed bug infestation and simply failed to protect its passengers from physical and emotional harm. The lawsuit also alleges that the cruise ship’s policies and procedures were inadequate in maintaining the safety of their guests. “They simply were negligent in providing safe premises,” said Virag.

According to Virag, about one in every five Americans has either experienced or knows someone who has experienced bed bugs.

MYBEDBUGLAWYERTM is the only law firm that specializes exclusively in bed bug litigation and has lawsuits pending against Disneyland, the Queen Mary and represents Brazilian Supermodel Sabrina Jales against Hilton Hotels. Virag and his firm have obtained the largest jury verdicts ever recorded in US History for victims of bed bug exposure.

 

Bedbug infestation wreaking havoc at Paris hotels

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS JAN 10, 2020  by Storm Gifford

Bedbugs are ruining business for many Parisian hoteliers.

Bedbugs are ruining business for many Parisian hoteliers. (animatedfunk/Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Quelle horreur!

Bedbugs, usually thought of as an American nuisance, are driving Parisians crazy with their appearance in hotels.

The pests, known as punaises de lit in France, are causing financial losses upwards of millions of euros for business owners in the French capital.

One Paris hotel group conceded that even ritzy hotels are falling victim to the pests — and the problem is worsening.

“It’s traumatizing hotel managers. We talk about it among ourselves, but timidly,” Jean-Marc D’Orx, the general president of a French hotel union, told Le Parisien. “The hotelier is a victim in this kind of case. It’s not that the hotel is dirty, but it has welcomed people who have brought the bedbugs with them.”

The number of reported bedbug cases in the nation has ballooned from 180,000 to 4000,000 in two short years, reported The Local.

And in 2018, there were 100,000 bedbug infestations just in Paris alone, according to the French Union for Pest Control.

Fearing massive financial losses and bad reputations, hotel managers also must shutter their establishments until the arrival of new beds and pest controls carry out inspections.

Bedbugs, usually only just 7 millimeters long, crave human blood. Bites can result in allergic reactions, skin rashes, and in some cases, psychological trauma.

One TripAdvisor commenter, who allegedly stayed at a Paris hotel in November, stated, “Bedbugs, no handling of the matter and no treatment. You’re better off sleeping in your car.”

 

How I got even with the 5-Star Hotel that gave me Bed Bugs

brokelyn.png by Erin Scottberg | November 7, 2017

brokelyn1.jpg

I kept a folder in my phone called #BiteThings before I knew what it was. All photos by Erin Scottberg

Of all the questionable places I’ve spent the night — dingy apartments in Bushwick, shady hostels in Cambodia, cut-rate motels on cross-country road trips — the last place I expected to pick up bed bugs was from a luxury hotel in the Bay Area. But lo and behold, that’s what happened: I brought home one of New York’s biggest nightmares on a cross-country flight from SFO, not on a cross-borough ride on the G train.

On the mildly bright side, I figured getting bed bugs from a fancy, five-star hotel chain that was known for their excellent customer service was at least the best way to get them. There’s no way I’d be responsible for treating my apartment, which I knew could be super expensive. It was their fault, end of story. Sure, they may not have a legal responsibility — a few states have laws protecting hotel guests from bed bugs, though they usually aren’t very effective — but anything else would be bad business.

Turns out, it wasn’t that simple.

This all happened two years ago during a business trip to San Francisco. I was enjoying happy hour with a friend at Rickhouse, a trendy cocktail bar in the Financial District filled with lots of dark wood and tech-engineer types crowded around whiskey barrel tables, when I noticed a small cluster of itchy pink bumps on my foot. As the bartender handed us our drinks, I joked, “The mosquitoes out here just love me!”

“That’s weird,” my friend replied with a confused look. “I don’t think I’ve been bitten once in the seven years I’ve lived here.”

I was so used to being the one who gets eaten alive while everyone else remains unscathed that I thought nothing of it. Having never lived there, I had no idea that the Bay Area has basically zero mosquitoes.

That night, I tucked myself once again into my fancy, king-sized hotel bed. Two days later I flew back to Brooklyn and crawled into my own bed for a daytime nap.

__________

A victim of ‘Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner’ bites, I wasn’t about to give up.

brokelyn2.jpg

Once I saw ‘breakfast, lunch and dinner’ bites, I knew it was bedbugs.

I woke up a few hours later with three big, itchy red bumps on my thigh. The next morning, there were a few more. When the same thing happened a third time, I assumed a mosquito had gotten into my apartment when I was out of town so I Googled “How to catch a mosquito” and started taking advice from internet commenters.

I’m no fool. Of course I’d suspected bed bugs, but I had no evidence — no physical bugs, no reddish-brown marks where I might have squashed one after it bit me, not even any “brown, coffee-grind like residue” I’d been told to look for (it’s their poop). And I’d been searching hard. Plus, I couldn’t come up with a source. I hadn’t had any house guests, hadn’t lugged home sidewalk furniture, hadn’t seen a movie at The Pavilion. The only possibility was that fancy hotel. But surely they’d have that stuff on lock to keep their reputation pristine?

After nearly two weeks of dotting each bite with a marker before bed to keep track of new bites, I woke up to three in a row on the side of my left shin — breakfast, lunch and dinner, as it’s called in bedbug-savvy circles. I was disgusted and freaking out. I tore apart my bed more thoroughly than ever, flipping over the box spring and prying the fabric from the frame with a butter knife while peaking in with a flashlight. Finally, after half an hour of hunting, there they were: two tiny, slightly reddish bed bugs tucked underneath a staple on the bottom side of my box spring.

Redemption. Success. An intense feeling of violation. Terror. Fears of bankruptcy and social ostracization and having to throw out everything I owned and start from scratch. The irony of having travelled to the opposite coast only to come face to face with New York’s public enemy number one was not lost on me. For a hot minute (ok, probably about 15 minutes), I lost it. I sat on my floor in the middle of my basic metal bed frame and cried.

But then, I started handling shit. And I was going to go after that fucking hotel.

___________

brokelyn3

I lived out of bags I kept in my kitchen, which was declared bed bug free.

First, I went to the hardware store for construction grade trash bags, mattress bags (like the kind you use for moving) and duct tape and sealed up pretty much everything in my bedroom — bedding, books, the actual luggage I’d used in SF. Anything that could went straight to the laundromat for a high-temp wash and dry. When the exterminators came later, they complimented my work.

Next, I called the hotel.

The manager listened calmly, then he explained that they couldn’t inspect the room because it was currently occupied.

I was incredulous. “Well, get them out of there! It has bed bugs!” He took down my contact info and said he’d get back to me. They didn’t seem to be taking things seriously.

The next day I got an email thanking me “for reaching out to us regarding any bed bug concerns that you have” and explaining that “after the inspection conducted today we did find minimal bed bug activity in the room.”

Minimal. Ha. The email then went on to explain how bed bugs aren’t a reflection of a hotel’s cleanliness (true) and are just a result of travelers (also true) and I should probably do my laundry and call a professional (obviously), and oh, won’t you please stay with us again?

I wasn’t about to spend thousands of dollars on professional extermination brought on by the hotel’s own negligence, so I asked about their plan to cover my fumigation costs. After a few days of general corporate non-answers, they explained that they had to follow the appropriate process and get their insurance company involved. Sounded good to me — they’d already said, in writing, that my room had bed bugs. Of course they were going to take responsibility for the situation.

_________

brokelyn4.jpg

I became BFFs with the crew at the laundromat.

Encouraged by the hotel’s management to “accelerate the process” at my personal cost (“keeping my receipts to be reimbursed”), I hired a pest control company. They decided to “bomb” my closet (where I’d hung unworn clothes from the trip and stored my luggage) and bookshelves (where I’d replaced paperwork and other books) with Nuvan strips and treat other potentially affected areas with Cryonite, a rapidly freezing carbon dioxide snow-like compound that goes by the tagline “The chill that kills”. Both treatments would require the items be out of commision for about a month. The total cost was just shy of $3,000.

Meanwhile, my battle ground had moved from the hotel to their insurance company. I was required to give a recorded statement to a claims specialists describing the ordeal. During our conversation, the specialist asked multiple times whether I’d turned down cleaning services at all during my stay. Luckily, I hadn’t. Turns out this is because checking for bed bugs is part of the cleaning checklist. If I’d told them to stay out of the room, then they wouldn’t have had a chance to inspect (however poorly) for bed bugs. This gave me leverage. (Ever since, I always accept the cleaning service — you can still tell them not to replace your sheets for environmental reasons, but at least allow them to come in and remake the bed.)

On top of all this, I’d learned via the public bedbug registry (it’s a thing!) that other guests had had the same problem around the same time. Given that irrefutable evidence, it’s understandable how livid I was that when the insurance company called a couple weeks later to let me know they determined the hotel not at fault.

A vendetta was born. I became a woman with a single mission: Make. Them. Pay.

___________

My apartment has a few recessed areas like this which are easy to seal off and treat.

brokelyn5.jpg

Luckily, my apartment has a few recessed areas like this which are easy to seal off and treat.

I’ve spent most of my career in online publishing in some form or another. I fully understand the power of SEO. And as a hotel — or anyone in the service industry — you reputation is everything. I started searching and found that there were multiple variations of “HOTELNAMEhasbedbugs.com” available. Two minutes later, I was the proud owner of a new URL. It was incredibly cathartic. I started dreaming of how I would detail every story, every photo and every dollar of my ordeal — all due to this hotel — to the world. I had mentally psyched myself up for my inevitable appearance on The Today Show during which my chyron would read “’Crazy Bed Bug Lady’ publically shames hotel into taking responsibility for their mistake”.

I sent word of my plans to the hotel, making it clear that I, too, could be a pest who wouldn’t go away.

After a month of continual phone calls, strongly worded emails and more conversations with their insurance company, I finally received an email from the hotel manager stating that “due to the nature of our business as well as our understanding of your frustration with this situation we would like as a hotel, regardless of fault, [to] reimburse you for the expenses you submitted.” Save your receipts, kids! I signed some papers — hence why I haven’t mentioned the chain’s name — and got my check. Blood had been shed (well, more like feasted on) but the battle had been won.

A few weeks later, I was able to remove the plastic sealing off my bookshelves and closet, and I no longer needed to pick my clothes out of trash bags. I was able to stop going to the laundromat every other day and I felt comfortable, kind of, replacing my duvet and bringing things into my house. Roscoe, the bed bug detecting beagle, did a complete sniff-test and cleared my apartment. I was happier to receive that piece of paper than I was my college degree.

__________

I recently found this guy crawling on my floor and I freaked out. I sent pics to the exterminators I used but it was just a beetle. Phew!

brokelyn6.jpg

I found this guy crawling on my floor and I freaked out, sent pics to the exterminators. But it was just a beetle.

But there are still times when I’m not convinced. I find a random, itchy bump on my elbow and tense up. I wake up to a red spot on the back of my shin and I’m flipping over the mattress. Earlier this summer, I was at a wedding in the Catskills where all of the guests stayed in cabins and when I got back to New York, I noticed my back looked like a game of connect the dots. I sent a text to the group asking “What’s everyone’s bug bite situation? I have so many it’s unreal. I’m nervous…” I wasn’t the only one.

A few hours later, we figured out we were dealing with chiggers, not bed bugs. While the others slept soundly that night, I dug out my markers and dotted each bite I could reach before going to bed and woke up early to do my laundry before work. Just in case.

That’s the thing with bed bugs. They’re not going to make you sick, or cause you any actual harm. But they can slowly drive you crazy, cost you more than twice your rent money, and make you fear for every bite, itch and bump you’ll ever have, for the rest of your life.

And while a business can’t possibly return your sense of security, they absolutely can — and should — take responsibility for their errors and make sure you don’t drain your savings (or go into debt) trying to recover from their mistake. If it comes down to it, just take a cue from our blood-sucking friends and keep at it for as long as you need to (and maybe register a domain name or two). Eventually, they’ll do whatever it takes to make you go away.

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.

 

SleepingSimple

Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

Bed Bug Blog Report

Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

Bed Bug Blog

Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety

CDC Blogs

Information and Perspectives on Bed Bug Prevention, Protection and Safety