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

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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.

Wayfair Customer Forced Arbitration: A Clause for Concern

WFMY News2 | by Matthew McNamara | February 13, 2020
Forced_Arbitration
Mandatory arbitration deprives consumers of important options if a product is faulty or harmful. Here’s how to fight back.

In July 2018, Ronald Gorny woke up in his Chicago home and noticed a few small insects scurrying on his new upholstered headboard.

Gorny pulled back the sheets to find dozens of more bugs, all seemingly engorged with blood, according to a class-action lawsuit his lawyers filed against Wayfair, the online housewares company that sold him the headboard. A photo he snapped shows his finger stretching the headboard’s fabric to reveal a shiny, dark creature about the size of a pencil tip and what appears to be stains on the surrounding fabric.

Gorny was not the first Wayfair customer to say bedding products had arrived infested with bed bugs. His lawyers, pointing to comments on the website Pissed Consumer, claim a “myriad” of other customers had also complained to the company. One Brooklyn, N.Y., woman even received an apologetic email from Wayfair CEO Niraj Shah in September 2016, almost two years before Gorny’s purchase.

Did Wayfair, as Gorny’s lawyers argue, knowingly sell products infested with bed bugs? Did it investigate the complaints or try to correct the problem? Gorny’s class-action lawsuit might have shed light on those questions—but the answers may never be known: At Wayfair’s request, a judge halted the suit in June 2019 and sent Gorny’s complaint to a closed-door, virtually unappealable proceeding known as arbitration.

Gorny, it turns out, had unknowingly signed on to this process by simply using wayfair.com, each page of which contains a link to its terms of use. There, about two-thirds of the way through 4,600 words of legalese, is what the judge called the relevant provision: “Any dispute between you and Wayfair . . . will be settled by binding arbitration.”

Citing pending legal matters, both a Wayfair spokesperson and a lawyer for Gorny declined to comment.

Whether you realize it or not, chances are you, too, have agreed to arbitration on dozens of occasions, forfeiting your right to take problems—even serious ones—with a product or service to court. Arbitration clauses like the one binding Gorny have spread rapidly through the consumer landscape in recent decades, first in the financial and telecom industries and more recently—as new Consumer Reports research shows—into the realm of consumer products.

More pernicious: Because arbitration proceedings are private, and because arbitration clauses almost always forbid plaintiffs from joining together, companies can use arbitration to preemptively crush consumer challenges to their practices, no matter how predatory, discriminatory, unsafe—and even illegal—they may be.

Triggering the Avalanche

Mandatory arbitration was established on a national level in 1925 by the Federal Arbitration Act, largely as an efficient way for businesses to resolve conflicts with other businesses. Since the 1980s, however, courts have greatly expanded the ability of businesses to force arbitration in consumer and employment disputes, and a string of Supreme Court cases over the past decade have busted wide the arbitration floodgates. In the landmark 2011 decision AT&T Mobility v. Concepcion (PDF), for example, the court knocked down a California law that had tried to prevent arbitration clauses from restricting class-action lawsuits.

With that series of green lights, corporate attorneys started slipping the arbitration language into more consumer transactions, from buying an Amtrak ticket to sending a package by UPS. A 2019 study in the UC Davis Law Review Online (PDF) found that 81 of the 100 largest U.S. companies now use arbitration in their dealings with consumers.

Though arbitration clauses are common in financial and telecom services, they now also increasingly go into force when you simply buy a consumer product such as a dishwasher or TV. To get a sense of how often, CR looked at the top-selling brands in the 10 product categories receiving the most traffic on our website, plus two types of products designed for safety: bike helmets and child car seats.

The results were striking. Of the 117 brand/category combinations we examined, 71—more than half—incorporate arbitration clauses. When looking at only the most popular product categories, just over two-thirds had arbitration clauses.

Studies have shown that most consumers have no idea what they’ve agreed to arbitration. And the incursion of arbitration into the realm of products, in particular, may be under the radar. Though financial services customers expect to sign user agreements, “you don’t think of a washing machine as coming with a contract,” says Lauren Saunders, associate director of the National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit group.

To be clear, you don’t have to sign anything—or even click “I agree” on a website—to be bound by arbitration. The clause can appear on product packaging or be buried deep in the warranties, user manuals, or—as with Gorny’s headboard—a website’s terms of use. Placing the clauses there, says Myriam Gilles, a law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law at Yeshiva University in New York City, is “intended to obscure the immensity of the rights being forfeited.”

Multiple courts have now ruled that even contracts one party did not see or have any choice but to sign are enforceable—decisions even some conservatives see as going too far. “The law has so evolved . . . that the sky’s the limit in how many arbitration clauses corporations are going to be able to ensnare consumers in,” says Brian Fitzpatrick, a law professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., who is also a former clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia, author of the Concepcion decision.

Missing Safeguards

Companies tend to justify mandatory arbitration by claiming that it actually benefits consumers. “Arbitration is a fairer, faster, and cheaper way . . . to resolve disputes without ever having to set foot in a courtroom,” says Harold Kim, the president of the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, a nonprofit organization.

The relatively informal proceedings of arbitration can indeed be faster and cheaper than going to court—but fairness is another matter.

Many of the safeguards built into the court system—the right to conduct “discovery” to establish basic facts, for example—are missing from arbitration. (It’s unlikely that in arbitration Gorny’s lawyers could demand all of Wayfair’s records of bed bug-related consumer complaints, as they could in a lawsuit.)

In addition, arbitrators aren’t obligated to follow legal precedent, and your right to appeal their decisions is extremely limited. Moreover, companies that arbitrate frequently are good at choosing arbitrators who tend to agree with their position, research shows. Plus, says CR senior policy counsel George Slover, “arbitrators have a built-in incentive to heed the interest of the company in hopes of repeat business.”

But the debate over the fairness of arbitration goes even deeper. For one thing, because arbitration is conducted in private and its outcome is typically kept under wraps, the underlying problem may be kept hidden.

That was the case with financial giant Wells Fargo, which between 2009 and 2016 notoriously opened some 3.5 million bogus bank and credit card accounts in the names of real customers. Beginning in 2013, customers tried to sue Wells Fargo, but because of arbitration clauses buried in the bank’s fine print, they were forced into confidential settlements. As a result, the bank’s practices remained hidden until press reports surfaced, leading to a government investigation and, ultimately, a huge financial settlement for harmed consumers.

A related problem has to do with how arbitration often prevents plaintiffs from jointly litigating grievances, a development that could lead to the end of class-action lawsuits. “It is not an overstatement to say that if the Concepcion decision is not overruled by the Supreme Court or overturned by Congress, then class-action lawsuits could be all but dead in a decade or less,” wrote Vanderbilt professor Fitzpatrick in his book “The Conservative Case for Class Actions” (University of Chicago Press, 2019).

That plan seems to be paying off. An estimated 825 million consumer arbitration agreements were in force in 2018. Yet only about 7,000 arbitration cases are actually heard each year, according to a 2019 study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, School of Law (PDF).

The Case of Moldy Washers

Why do individual cases matter if they are often small? Because one function of civil lawsuits is deterrence—the idea that the risk of a sizable judgment from many small lawsuits combined into one prevents companies from doing questionable things to increase profits and pushes them to quickly fix problems when they arise. “The lion’s share of academic studies has found that . . . class-action lawsuits deter misconduct,” says Vanderbilt professor Fitzpatrick. “Deterrence is reason enough to keep class actions.”

Take the case of front-loading washing machines. They became popular in the mid-1990s because of their impressive performance and energy efficiency. But owners soon began complaining of mold buildup, foul smells, and ruined laundry. It turned out that the rubber gaskets around the doors trapped moisture, among other problems. Class actions involving millions of washers followed, and by 2017 Bosch, Electrolux, LG, and others settled. Whirlpool, for example, agreed to give owners at least $50 or a 20 percent rebate on a new machine, and up to $500 for repair or replacement.

Arguably even more important were changes to the marketplace motivated by the class actions. Though the problem hasn’t been eradicated, several problematic washers have been taken off the market or redesigned to be less susceptible to mold. Many now come with self-cleaning cycles.

But here’s the catch: Those companies now impose arbitration provisions. The clause added by Whirlpool, for example, says it “applies to any and all claims, disputes, or controversies of any nature whatsoever that You may raise against Whirlpool and/or its Affiliated Entities.”

So what would happen if the mold problem emerged today? For one thing, it would be hard to find a lawyer. Jonathan Selbin, lead counsel in the LG and Whirlpool suits, says it’s “highly unlikely” he would sign on to cases with such a broadly written clause in place. In fact, before taking new cases he now always asks whether an arbitration clause is in effect. “It’s become a threshold inquiry right up there with whether the problem is real,” he says. And without a lawyer consumers rarely prevail: Just 6 percent of people who represent themselves in arbitration win, research shows.

How to Protect Yourself

Arbitration, in some cases, can be a good option for consumers, provided they understand the trade-offs and can deliberately choose arbitration over the court system after a dispute arises, says CR’s Slover. What advocates object to is requiring consumers to agree to arbitra­tion before buying a product or service, and long before a dispute has arisen.

The federal Forced Arbitration Injustice Repeal (FAIR) Act, passed by the House in September 2019 and now in the Senate, would ban predispute forced arbitration, including provisions that prevent people from joining class actions. In the meantime, is there anything you can do? It’s not always easy, but here are some steps to try:

Check to see whether companies use arbitration. Though this information is often buried, CR has done the hard work for you for some popular products. In other cases, look for arbitration language on your own. The clauses often lurk in links at the bottom of a company’s website under headings such as “terms of use” or “legal terms and conditions.” Search for “arbitration” and “dispute” using the “find” function. Also check the user agreements that most of us agree to when we purchase a product online or otherwise interact with a company’s digital offerings.

Don’t let down your guard when shopping offline, either. Companies put arbitration clauses in owner’s manuals and warranty materials, and on the product packaging itself.

Try to choose products from companies that don’t use arbitration. If you’re choosing between two products similar in quality and price, use arbitration as a tiebreaker. For example, Evenflo and Graco both offer top-rated convertible child car seats for about $100­—but Graco’s come with a mandatory arbitration clause. (The company did not respond when asked why it has that provision while most other car-seat makers that we looked at don’t.)

Opt-out when you can. Some companies allow consumers to opt-out of arbitration, such as the mattress maker Simmons Beautyrest. But act fast and read the instructions carefully. Companies often require you to take the step within 30 days of purchase and to use specific language.

Complain. Use social media to contact the CEO, customer service, and other consumers. In a handful of cases, doing so prompted companies to reverse course on arbitration. For example, in 2014 food giant General Mills dropped arbitration requirements that the company said applied even to people who simply downloaded coupons, after a wave of consumer outrage and media coverage. “We’ve listened,” the company wrote in a blog post in April of that year. “And we’re changing our legal terms back.”

Negotiate using the legal leverage you have. If you have a dispute and find you’re bound by an arbitration clause, know that many companies try to settle disputes informally before beginning arbitration or defending small claims cases in court. In fact, some companies may make an offer before you begin legal action.

Bedbugs bite Wednesday night rush under Queens Boulevard

In this file photo, subway riders wait on the platform of the Forest Hills 71st Avenue station in Forest Hills.
In this file photo, subway riders wait on the platform of the Forest Hills 71st Avenue station in Forest Hills. (Xanthos Julia/Xanthos Julia)
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS | Jan 22, 2020 | by Clayton Guse and Bill Sanderson

A bedbug infestation in an underground subway workspace slowed the homeward commutes of thousands of straphangers Wednesday night on the Queens Boulevard line.

E, F, M and R service were affected by the delays that started around 4:30 p.m., the MTA said.

The problem arose in a subway control tower at the Forest Hills/71st St. station, said MTA NYC Transit president Andy Byford.

When an employee reported seeing bedbugs in the tower, “we immediately took action to fumigate the tower, which resulted in an evacuation until tower staff were able to safely return at approximately 7:30 p.m,” Byford said in a statement.

Towers are places where railroad staff control switches that route trains. The subways use the word tower to describe such control facilities even though they are underground.

Because the Forest Hills/71st St. tower was evacuated, there was no subway staff available to turn around trains on the M and R lines, which end their runs at the station.

That forced the trains to be rerouted, and turned around further east on Queens Boulevard.

NYCT Subway

@NYCTSubway

At approximately 4:30pm, our management team requested a fumigation of the Continental Master Control Tower, which we immediately commenced. All of our personnel were evacuated from the tower.

NYCT Subway

@NYCTSubway

Continental is where the track switches at 71 Av are controlled. Without human operators, our ability to turn trains around at the terminal was compromised. That caused severe disruptions along the E, F, M, and R lines.

“We apologize for the inconvenience to our customers as we worked to address the issue and ensure the safety of our employees,” Byford said.

The problem was finally cleared up at around 8:30 p.m.

Byford said the problem wasn’t expected to affect the morning commute.

How Do Bed Bugs Travel from Room to Room -Keep Them Out

Curious how do bed bugs travel from room to room? It’s important to take preventive measures, because of how quickly they can spread in your home.

How Do Bed Bugs Travel from Room to RoomHow Do Bed Bugs Travel from Room to Room

(Newswire.net — July 17, 2019) — Bed bugs can be a real nuisance when they invade your home. A bedbug infestation often means you’ll struggle to sleep in peace because they like to feed on blood by sucking through your skin when you’re asleep. Have you ever wondered how do bed bugs travel from room to room? They spread fast and also breed at a high rate. Before taking any pest control measures, it’s important to understand how they migrate, so you can have a better idea of how to eliminate them.

How Do Bed Bugs Travel from Room to Room

Just like you want to know the signs of a rat infestation and how to eliminate them, it’s the same when it comes to bed bugs. Bed bugs can spread rather quickly, so it’s important to be prepared so you can eliminate the bed bugs before they spread too much. Below are various ways bed bugs can travel to your home and spread to multiple rooms.

Through Breeding

Bedbugs mature fast and the females can lay eggs at a rate of four to seven eggs daily. The eggs are laid in dark places and will usually stick on any hard surfaces such as wood. This makes them spread fast, especially if the eggs are laid on furniture and you move to a different place. Female bed bugs can lay a total of 200 eggs, especially in dark, isolated spaces. The eggs will usually hatch within a week or two.

Through the Movement of Infested Items

Bed bugs live in furniture, beds, bedding or clothing. If you move any of these infested items, then it can carry the bugs, and they’ll continue breeding in the new room or place where the furniture was moved to if the conditions are favorable.

Crawling

Bed bugs are very good at crawling. They can crawl very fast when it’s dark. For instance, if you feel some bites while you’re asleep and decide to turn on the lights, the chances are you won’t even find one as they travel fast to their hiding places. If you live in an apartment, bed bugs can spread to every home through cracks. They’re also resilient to many pesticides and should you decide to spray an infested home, they simply move to the next room or home.

Movement of People

Whenever people put on clothes that are infested by bed bugs, they move them to other places where they land. For instance, one can collect bugs from one room to another or from a friend’s house to their home. These pests can also spread through traveling with infested packaging boxes and suitcases when one is moving from one residence to another.

Resilience and Resistance

Bed bugs are extremely adaptive and resilient. They can survive for up to seventy days without feeding and can live for several months if well fed. They’re also very sensitive and search for their prey by sensing heat from the human body and carbon dioxide from the mouth. When feeding, they pierce the human body through the skin and spit some saliva that contains chemicals that make you insensitive until they have finished.

Bottom Line

It goes without saying that bed bugs spread fast and their ability to hide in dark spaces encourages their spread. A single infestation can turn into a full-blown infestation in no time, which is why it’s important to keep them awayfrom your home. Once you have an answer to the question: how do bed bugs travel from room to room, you can take necessary precautions and measures.

‘Kissing bug’ case in Delaware raises alarm for summer

(CNN) April 25, 2019 | Jacqueline Howard and Nadia Kounang

A bloodsucking “kissing bug” bit a Delaware girl on the face last summer while she was watching television. Now, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is calling the incident the first confirmed identification of the bug in the state.

Triatoma sanguisuga, often called the “kissing bug” because it usually bites around the eyes and mouth, can transmit a parasite called Trypanosoma cruzi. The parasite causes Chagas disease, which can have serious cardiac and gastrointestinal complications.
When the girl was bitten, her family contacted the Delaware Division of Public Health and the Delaware Department of Agriculture for help in identifying the creature. They were concerned about possible disease transmission from the insect, according to a CDC report Thursday.
“The girl who was bitten had no ill effects,” the report said, and although the bug’s presence was confirmed in Delaware at the time, there is no current evidence of Trypanosoma cruzi in the state.
Yet the case raises new concern about how many additional kissing bug bites might occur this summer across the nation — and what that means for public health.
Although the risk of Trypanosoma cruzi transmitted by kissing bugs is minimal, most of the kissing bugs in the United States are potential disease vectors, and parasite transmission could increase because of climate change, according to a paper in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases in 2012.
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Chagas is endemic to Latin America, where a different species of the bug lives and can find its way into rural households.

“They might have thatched roof or poorly insulated walls, and the bugs set up shop and feed on animals and people at home,” Sarah Hamer, now an associate professor of epidemiology at Texas A&M University’s Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical School, said in 2015.
Yet the bugs exist here in the United States, too.
Hamer said the kissing bug and Chagas have long been our neighbors: “The earliest reports are from the 1800s. The first parasites have been reported since the 1940s. We’re just diagnosing more disease. We’re paying attention to it now.”

 
The CDC estimates that there are 300,000 people living with Chagas in the United States, but most cases are contracted in other countries.

Only a few cases of Chagas disease from contact with the bugs have been documented in this country, and kissing bugs have been reported in 28 states, mostly in the southern half of the nation, according to the CDC. The bugs in the United States are most likely to be found outside.
To prevent infestation, the CDC recommends that you:
  • Seal cracks and gaps around windows, walls, roofs and doors
  • Remove wood, brush and rock piles near your house
  • Use screens on doors and windows and repair any holes or tears
  • Seal holes and cracks leading to the attic, to crawl spaces below the house and to the outside
  • Have pets sleep indoors, especially at night
  • Keep your house and any outdoor pet resting areas clean, in addition to periodically checking both areas for the presence of bugs
If you suspect that you’ve found a kissing bug, the CDC says not to squash it. Instead, place it in a container and fill with rubbing alcohol or freeze in water, and take it to your local health department.

BITEMARE: East Texas Mother claims hotel was infested with Bed Bugs

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GRAND SALINE, TX | July 1, 2019 | by Mye Owens

You know the saying, “Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite.” Well, it’s not just a nursery rhyme. Experts say bed bugs are common during this time of year and can ruin a good nights sleep.

If you’re planning a family getaway for the summer, it’s important to be aware of unwanted guests that may be waiting for you when resting away from home. Just ask Tiffany Thompson.

“The first night he had bites just up here, and I thought it was just mosquito bites,” explains Thompson, as she points out red marks on her son.

Thompson and her 1 year old son Aiden were spending the night at a hotel in Grand Saline, when the unthinkable happened.

“Just the second night, he woke up. Covered, his face, his arms,” continues Thompson.

Trying to find the cause of these bites, she pulled back the sheets, and couldn’t believe what she saw.

“I didn’t know at first, but I checked the bed, I checked around it. There were bed bugs everywhere. I didn’t even think that there would be bed bugs like that.” describes Thompson.

When she took her son to the hospital, she says doctors couldn’t count the number of bites on his body.

Bed Bug bites are more common then not.

Research shows 1 out of 5 Americans have either been bitten by a bed bug, or knows someone who has.

Experts say a good way to check if bed bugs are in your home is to flip over the covers, and check in between the mattress seams, because that’s where the insects love to hide.

“Usually it’s red, itchy, and kind of almost either in a linear pattern where they’re crawling up your skin, or a zigzag pattern where they’re going back and forth,” explains Dr. Matt Young, who often treat bed bug bites.

Doctors say the best way to treat a bite is to not scratch, and be aware if you start having more symptoms.

“If you’re having an allergic reaction, they start getting welts, and start getting itchy and then you may have shortness of breath that’s a 911 emergency,” says Dr. Young.

Because a trip to the hospital like Aiden had, could be just one bite away.

How to prevent Bed Bugs:

*Below are tips provided by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Check all second hand furniture for any signs of insects before bringing it home
  • Use a protective cover over your mattress and box springs
  • Reducing clutter in your home, reduces the number of places the bugs can hide
  • Vacuum on a regular basis
  • Be vigilant if you are sharing laundry facilities

 

EWG Calls on CDC To Monitor US Population for Monsanto’s Weedkiller Glyphosate

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 26, 2019  by  Alex Formuzis

WASHINGTON – Glyphosate, the most heavily used pesticide in the U.S., should be added to the list of toxic chemicals the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regularly measures in the bodies of the American people, Environmental Working Group said in a letter sent today to the CDC.

A growing body of research has found that Americans, including children, are exposed to glyphosate through food sprayed with the weedkiller, and from air and water because of the widespread presence of glyphosate in the environment.

A University of California biomonitoring study of more than 1,000 older adults in Southern California found that at least 70 percent had detectable traces of glyphosate in their bodies between 2014 and 2017. That compared to just 12 percent of participants tested between 1993 and 1996, EWG said in the letter to CDC.

The dramatic increase in exposure among the participants in the California study aligns with the growing amount of glyphosate – the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup – sprayed on cropland since the mid-1990s. More than 250 million pounds were sprayed in 2016.

Most glyphosate used in agriculture is applied on Roundup-ready corn and on soybeans genetically engineered to withstand the herbicide. Increasingly, however, glyphosate is used on non-GMO wheat, barley, oats and beans. The herbicide kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner. EWG has conducted three rounds of tests of popular oat-based cereals and snack foods marketed toward kids, and found glyphosate in nearly every sample of food.

recent review of 19 studies of the evidence of human exposure to glyphosate globally, led by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, highlighted the limitations of currently available data and concluded that additional studies are urgently needed.

In the letter, EWG urged the CDC to address the lack of nationwide biomonitoring studies of glyphosate, especially exposure of young children. “The EPA’s dietary risk assessments indicate that children one to two years old likely have the highest exposure levels, comparable with EPA estimates of exposure in occupational settings – and yet real-life data on infants’ and children’s exposure to glyphosate are missing,” EWG wrote.

Some of the most recent scientific research suggests that glyphosate exposure during pregnancy can harm the developing fetus as well as the health of newborns and young children.

In 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic” to people. In 2017, the herbicide was listed by the California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment as a chemical known to the state to cause cancer.

“A national biomonitoring effort will give epidemiologists the opportunity to study the health effects associated with glyphosate exposure,” wrote Olga Naidenko, Ph.D., vice president for science investigations at EWG, and Alexis Temkin, Ph.D., an EWG toxicologist.

EWG###

More Than 100,000 Americans Urge EPA To Restrict Unnecessary Use of Monsanto’s Weedkiller on Oats

EWG
WASHINGTON – JUNE 7, 2019 – By Alex Formuzis alex@ewg.org

This week, more than 100,000 Americans officially joined EWG and 20 companies calling on the Environmental Protection Agency to significantly restrict the use of Monsanto’s weedkiller glyphosate on oats as a pre-harvest drying agent.

A coalition of companies and public interest groups, led by EWG and Megafood, gathered 104,952 signatures on online petitions to the EPA, urging the agency to lower the tolerance limit of glyphosate in oats and prohibit its pre-harvest use.  The names of those who signed the petitions were submitted to EPA on Wednesday.

The EPA’s legal limit for glyphosate residues on oats is 30 parts per million, or ppm. The petition, first filed last September, asks the agency to set a more protective standard of 0.1 ppm, which was the legal limit in 1993.

glyphosate_plow

“Administrator Andrew Wheeler and the EPA could quickly remove one of the more concerning routes of dietary exposure to glyphosate for children by restricting the unnecessary use of glyphosate on oats,” said EWG Legislative Director Colin O’Neil. “Americans are demanding the agency act to protect the public and the food supply from being contaminated with this toxic weedkiller linked to cancer.”

“It’s hard to find 100,000 people who agree on anything,” O’Neil said. “But when it comes to feeding themselves and their families, they agree that we should not have to worry whether eating healthy, oat-based foods for breakfast could come with a dose of glyphosate.”

The petition was amended this week and submitted to the EPA docket to include additional companies that have signed on since last year.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Bayer-Monsanto’s Roundup, is the most widely used pesticide in the world. It is largely used as a weedkiller on genetically modified corn and soybeans. But it is increasingly being used for crop management and applied pre-harvest to a number of non-genetically engineered crops, including oats.

Glyphosate kills the crop, drying it out so it can be harvested sooner than if the plant were allowed to die naturally. This is very likely one of the leading sources of dietary exposure for people who consume foods made with oat-based foods, like cereal and oatmeal.

Two rounds of laboratory tests commissioned by EWG found glyphosate in nearly every sample of oat-based cereal and other breakfast products at levels higher than what EWG scientists consider protective for children’s health with an adequate margin of safety.

On June 12, EWG will release results of its latest tests, which will include additional oat-based cereals and other foods that were not analyzed for glyphosate in the two earlier rounds.

2017 study by a team of California scientists estimate that between 2014 and 2016, at least 70 percent of American adults surveyed had detectable levels of the cancer-causing weedkiller in their bodies. That compares to 12 percent in American adults between 1993 and 1996, just before the use of glyphosate started to surge with the advent of GMO crops designed to withstand direct application of the chemical.

In 2015, 17 of the world’s top cancer researchers convened by the International Agency for Research on Cancer reviewed hundreds of studies on glyphosate and voted unanimously to classify the weedkiller as “probably carcinogenic to humans.” In 2017, California added glyphosate to its official list of chemicals known to cause cancer.

These companies are cosigners of the petition to the EPA: MegaFood, Ben & Jerry’s, Stonyfield Farm, MOM’s Organic Market, Nature’s Path, One Degree Organic Foods, National Co+op Grocers, Happy Family Organics, Amy’s Kitchen, Clif Bar & Company, Earth’s Best Organic, GrandyOats, INFRA, KIND Healthy Snacks, Lundberg Family Farms, Organic Valley, Patagonia Provisions, PCC Community Markets, Foodstirs and Kamut International, Ltd.

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The Environmental Working Group is a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that empowers people to live healthier lives in a healthier environment. Through research, advocacy and unique education tools, EWG drives consumer choice and civic action.

Bed bug infestations are only getting worse — here’s why they’re so hard to kill

  • Bed bugs can stow away on your clothes, bags, and mattresses, infest your home, and lay thousands of eggs in the process.
  • They feed on human blood and swell to twice their body weight.
  • Despite our best efforts, bed bugs are hard to kill and infestations are only getting worse.
  • Part of the problem is that bed bugs are developing resistance to pesticides, and experts worry we’re running out of options.

The children were right. A gruesome creature lurks under your bed. And yes, it wants to suck your blood…swelling to twice its size in the process.

Its name? Cimex lectularius — aka the common bed bug.

Turns out these creatures have tormented humans for thousands of years. Ancient Egyptians, for example, used spells to try and fight the insect hordes. But to no avail. And while our weapons have come a long way since spell casting … we’re struggling more than ever to fend off these pesky pests.

In the 20th century, humans developed a new weapon against the bed bug. Toxic chemicals. Pesticides like DDT nearly wiped out entire populations in most Western countries. But even that wasn’t enough. By the turn of the millennium, bed bug populations resurged worldwide. And this time, they had new weapons against us. Like 15% thicker skin — to better protect against harmful pesticides. And enzymes called esterases and oxidizes. Which break down common insecticides, making them useless. In fact, researchers worry we’re running out of effective insecticides!

If that’s not terrifying enough, consider this: Just a few bed bugs can quickly turn into a dangerous infestation. Let’s say a single female spots you in the local movie theater … and hitches a ride home on your clothes. Here’s the problem: She’s pregnant. And will lay hundreds of eggs. Within just a few months, that lonesome bed bug can turn into thousands.

But most victims won’t even notice until it’s too late. Since their flat, plate-like bodies let bed bugs vanish into impossibly tight nooks and crannies. So it’s no wonder infestations are out of control! From 2004 to 2009, the New York City council reported a 2,000% increase in bedbug complaints! And although they don’t transmit disease, bed bug bites are bad news.

In one case, a 60-year-old man needed to be hospitalized for blood loss. Bed bugs can also trigger itchy rashes, which can cause skin infections at best … and deadly allergic reactions at worse. The good news is you CAN rid your home of these pests. Experts recommend hiring professional exterminators to heat your home to extreme temperatures.

The bad news? You’ll have to shell out $800 to $1,200 a pop to clear your apartment.

So until we discover a safe but cheaper way to take out every last one…it won’t be so easy to sleep tight and not let the bed bugs bite.

by Gina Echevarria and Shira Polan  Dec. 28, 2018

New Survey Shows Americans Taking Action Against Bed Bugs

National Pest Management Association Urges Continued Vigilance During Bed Bug Awareness Week

FAIRFAX, Va. (April 16, 2014) – A majority of Americans have begun taking precautions against the spread of bed bugs, according to the 2014 Bed Bug Awareness Week survey conducted online in the U.S. by Harris Poll on behalf of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) in March 2014 among over 2,000 U.S. adults ages 18+. The survey, which found nearly three in five (59%) Americans take some kind of precaution against bed bugs, is being released in conjunction with Bed Bug Awareness Week (April 20-26), a national observance to help spread awareness about bed bugs and what people can do to curb infestations.

Bed bugs are known for their hitchhiking capabilities and are easily transported, making them an elusive pest and formidable opponent. In fact, bed bugs are considered one of the most difficult pests to control by professionals, due in part to their quick breeding capabilities and tendency to hide in small, dark crevices, often unseen by the human eye, such as behind headboards and baseboards, as well as inside electrical outlets and box springs. Depending on the scope of an infestation, it can take several treatments to fully eradicate the bugs.

Industry experts agree that public awareness is key in quelling infestations. “Education and vigilance are the first steps to help stop the spread of bed bugs, and we’re pleased and encouraged to hear that so many Americans are becoming more aware of their surroundings and taking measures to protect against this troublesome pest,” said Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “We hope the public will use Bed Bug Awareness Week as an opportunity to brush up on prevention techniques—especially as we head into the busy summer travel season.”

Below are highlights from the survey:

59 percent of all U.S. adults take some kind of precaution against bed bug infestations.
34 percent inspect sheets, mattress pads and mattresses for signs of bed bugs upon checking into a hotel
33 percent wash all clothes in hot water after returning home from a vacation
29 percent avoid visiting homes or locations that have had a bed bug infestation
28 percent remain vigilant of where they place their belongings when in public places
12 percent vacuum suitcases after returning home from vacation
8 percent keep their suitcases in a plastic trash bag or protective cover for the duration of their hotel stays
If they suspected a bed bug infestation in their home, 95 percent of U.S. adults would do something to alleviate the problem.
69 percent would wash their sheets and bedding in hot water
64 percent would clean and vacuum their bedrooms
62 percent would contact a pest professional/exterminator
40 percent would buy an over-the-counter bed bug removal product
30 percent would throw away their mattress and purchase a new one
More information, including bed bug biology, prevention tips and best practices can be found on AllThingsBedBugs.org.

The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry’s commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For more information, visit PestWorld.org.

Survey Methodology
This survey was conducted online within the United States by Harris Poll on behalf of the National Pest Management Association from March 11-13, 2014 among 2,037 adults ages 18 and older. This online survey is not based on a probability sample and therefore no estimate of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

Pest Control Advice When Buying a New Home
When purchasing a home, certain steps must be taken to ensure things go smoothly. Aside from any cosmetic updates, it’s important to also account for any problems that may not be visible to the naked eye. That’s why a new home pest inspection is so important.

Copyright ©2019 National Pest Management Association

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