Employees Complain of Bed Bugs at 24-7 Intouch, a call center in Clearwater, FL

January 25, 2016 | by Evan Lambert | Fox 13 News

CLEARWATER (FOX 13) – Former and current workers at 24-7 Intouch, a Clearwater customer service call center, say they’ve been working for a week while the business deals with a bed bug problem.

24-7_Intouch

The company handles customer service calls for major brands like Netflix, Walmart, and Airbnb.

Jeff Fettes, chief operating officer, tells FOX 13 employees did spot several dead bed bugs on January 14. He calls the incident isolated and says the business is not infested. But employees say they’ve seen live bed bugs near air vents and on furniture as recently as Saturday.

Fettes says the company has hired several pest control companies to treat the building.

 

Employees say they are uncomfortable with the working conditions. They describe several workers dealing with repeated bites. Many fear speaking up about the issue will lead them to lose their jobs.

“I feel bad for the people that still have to go to work and then if they are allowed to go home it’s without pay. So if you’re a single person and you’re the sole income you have no choice,” said Celeste Smith, a former worker.

One current worker, who asked not to be identified, said many of her coworkers continue to work because they worry if they complain they’ll be punished by managers.

“One of my friends actually had to go to the emergency room for getting so many bites on one of his legs,” she said.

Fettes says 24-7 Intouch is allowing workers to go home if they feel unsafe. He says the company is advising workers on how to reduce the risk of spreading bed bugs while the company continues to investigate the issue.

According to Fettes, several workers have made complaints to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. He says 24-7 Intouch has responded to the complaints by provide documents it is handling the problem.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Denver [& bedbugs] may be going to Super Bowl 50. The City has a serious Public Health problem – #BedBugs transmit deadly Chagas disease.

15 cities with the worst bed bug infestations

DenverBroncos.jpg
January 11, 2016 | by Fox25

ServiceMaster, an American company that provides residential and commercial services and owner of Terminix, released their annual ranking of bed bug-infested cities.

For the first time in four years, Detroit outranked Philadelphia and snagged the No. 1 spot.

The top 15 bed bug-infested cities in the United States, according to the the list are as follows:

  1. Detroit, Michigan
  2. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  3. Cleveland-Akron, Ohio
  4. Los Angeles, California
  5. Dayton, Ohio
  6. Chicago, Illinois
  7. Columbus, Ohio
  8. Cincinnati, Ohio
  9. Dallas-Forth Worth, Texas
  10. San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, California
  11. Denver, Colorado
  12. Toledo, Ohio
  13. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
  14. Baltimore, Maryland
  15. New York, New York

“We’ve seen a steady increase in bed bugs since the 1990s, which has been influenced by increased international travel and infestations left untreated,” said Paul Curtis, manager of technical services at Terminix. “Most of the cities in our top 15 are big tourist and business destinations, making travelers even more at risk for encounters with bed bugs – whether it’s on the plane, at their hotel, in a movie theater or riding in a taxi. The name ‘bed bug’ is deceptive as these pests can thrive just about anywhere.”

The cities that made the top 15 were identified using information compiled from over 300 Terminix locations across the U.S. The rankings present cities that had the highest number of calls from Jan. 1, 2015 to Dec. 17, 2015.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Wichita State University – Bedbugs in Dorm

January 21, 2016 | by Ben Jordan | wkake ABC.com

WICHITA, Kan. (KAKE) — A bed bug battle is going on between a Wichita State University dorm resident and the school.

Freshman student Londyn Bobbitt says she first found bed bugs in her Fairmount Towers dorm room back in November. Her room was treated, but now she says they’re back. The school says this time, the $800 bill to get rid of them is her responsibility.

“I was laying long ways and I was reading a book and then out of the corner of my eye, I just saw one,” said Bobbitt.

Bobbitt says she’s found about ten of the creepy crawlers in her dorm room over the school year.

“I’ve seen four this semester,” she said.

Bobbitt says she found out the hard way that bed bugs live on the blood of animals and people.

“The next morning I woke up to a rash on my face which turned out to be bed bug bites,” said Bobbitt.

She contacted the school’s facilities department twice about the problem. The first round of treatments were taken care of by the school. A pest control company came out for two rounds.

“They do both a chemical treatment and a heat treatment that they feel very confident eradicates all the bugs from the room,” said WSU Director of Housing, Scott Jensen

[Heat on bedbugs does just the opposite – bedbugs run and hide in the wall outlets, in cracks in wall, ceiling tiles and in closets.  Chemicals – poisonous – and bedbugs are resistant to them.  Bed bugs can hide and go without eating for 12 months!  Of course the poor girl still has them in her dorm.  She’s probably NOT the only person in that dorm that has bedbugs.]

Jensen says this is the first incident of bed bugs on campus over the past two years. His department told Bobbitt not to take any clothing or electronics out of her room, and anything she wears needs to be thoroughly washed.

“I did break protocol so-to-speak when I left, but this is only because when I spoke to them they didn’t say any of this,” she said.

“The fact that she has very clearly saying ‘yes, I didn’t follow the protocol to the T’, that leads us to believe that it was more likely than not that they came back from her than from this company,” Jensen countered.

Bobbitt insists there’s no way she brought the bed bugs out or back into her room.

“If I had they’d be in my parents house where I was,” she said. “I would be itchy and that’s not the case.”

For now, Bobbitt says she’ll continue to sleep on her desks and fight the university on this issue.

Bed bugs leave stains on your bed that look like small rust spots. Usually near the corners or edges of the bed.  [called BLOOD spots]

Also, look for red, itchy bites. You might see red welts in zigzag lines or small clusters on the skin, especially arms and shoulders.

Finally, bed bugs release pheromones which leave an unpleasant musty odor like a wet towel.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Sacramento, CA Suburb Movie Theater Has BedBug Scare

January 22, 2016 | by Melinda Meza
LODA, Calif. (KCRA) —A Lodi movie theater took action when moviegoers voiced their concerns on social media about bedbugs in the theater.

Which Big Law Firm in New York Is Dealing With A Bed Bug Infestation in the WorkPlace?

January 21, 2016 | by Staci Zaretsky | AboveTheLaw.com

Working in a big law firm in any capacity is difficult enough, but when you add positively nauseating things on top of an already stressful environment, it can make the situation even worse.

Raise your hand if you’re afraid of bugs. You may claim that you’re not, but we’re not talking about any old kind of bug — we’re talking about bed bugs. Bed bugs are likely to bite you repeatedly, suck your blood, and leave you with red, itchy welts all over your body. Bed bugs are also nearly impossible to get rid of. We suspect that you’d be deathly afraid of those kind of bugs.

One law firm is currently dealing with a bed bug problem, and it’s not looking pretty. According to our tipsters, partners at the New York office of Hogan Lovells are attempting to calm the hysteria breaking out at the firm after bed bugs were discovered in several offices at the firm. Here’s an excerpt from an email about the situation sent last night to all New York employees by administrative partner Christopher Donoho:

bed bug bedbug smallYesterday, we received notice that there was a bug discovered in a paralegal office on the 24th floor. We suspected it might be a bed bug and took it seriously. Last night, we had bed bug locating dogs in the office to search every office, work station and room on the 24th floor. The dogs found some evidence of bed bug presence in the managing clerk’s office, the paralegal’s office, one attorney office and one secretarial station. There was no other evidence of bed bugs on the floor. They also searched parts of other floors and found no evidence of bed bugs there either. The exterminators will be back tonight and will be treating the entire 24th floor.

HoLove’s got no love for bed bugs. While Donoho went on to say that the presence of bed bugs was “not the fault of any employee or contractor,” you know everyone is going to be looking sideways at those who work on the 24th floor, especially the managing clerk.

As an FYI, if you see someone scratching themselves incessantly while busy billing hours at Hogan Lovells, you may know who to blame for the firm’s bed bug problem.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Williamsburg, VA…think twice before selecting hotel without Bed Bugs

Bed Bugs at the Travelodge scare this family over holiday weekend vacation.

January 21, 2016 | by Scott Wise | CBS 6

WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — A mother said her children were now scared to go to sleep after the family stayed at a Williamsburg motel. During their recent stay, Elizabeth Wilcox said she discovered bed bugs in the motel room after she noticed rashes and bites on her children.

“So immediately I flip the mattress just to see all the bed bugs crawling everywhere, there’s so many of them the kids are scratching their legs,” Wilcox told WTKR. “The mattress cover had a zip on it but there were holes covering it so the bed bugs were in the box spring.”

The manager of the Travelodge, off Richmond Road in Williamsburg, said the property did not have a bed bug problem and found no issues when he inspected the room. He said he would order a pest control company to inspect the room.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

 

California study examines genetic diversity of Kissing Bugs…concludes deadly Chagas disease may be underdiagnosed in U.S.

January 21, 2016 | MedicalXpress.com

Trypanosoma cruzi is a protozoan parasite that can cause an insidious onset of Chagas disease, a fatal cardiac disease in humans and dogs. The parasite is transmitted via triatomine insects, commonly called kissing bugs. In Latin America T. cruzi is recognized as an economically important parasite; however, there is limited research regarding its spread and virulence in the USA. As a result, while the genetic diversity of the T. cruzi parasite has been well studied in Latin America less is known about the strains endemic to the USA.

“Chagas disease should be considered as a potential cause of cardiac illness in humans and dogs.”

Researchers from the University of California, Davis, and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine assessed the prevalence of T. cruzi from northern and southern California regions. The researchers used a combination of methods to obtain triatomine insects, including active collection via black light traps and the enlistment of private property owners and public health officials in specimen submission. DNA was extracted from the specimens and screened for T. cruzi via molecular techniques. Positive samples were genetically typed into one of six recognized T. cruzi subgroups (TcI – TcVI). Finally, the researchers performed genetic analyses to examine the potential virulence of the California T. cruzi samples as compared to infective T. cruzi strains from Latin America.

Of the 29 specimens from northern California 55% were infected, while T. cruzi was detected in 34% of the 53 samples collected from one of the southern California locations. Two separate subtypes were found—with 20 parasites falling into the TcI subgroup and 2 into TcIV. The TcIV subgroup was not detected in the northern California region. Genetic analyses did not reveal any particular unique characteristics to distinguish the California samples from several Latin American strains known to infect humans.

This research suggests that the apparent rarity of locally-acquired Chagas disease in the USA is unlikely due to any genetic difference in the infectious capabilities of the parasite. Rather, the fact that local triatomine species (e.g. Triatoma protracta) do not frequently colonize human homes, likely translates to decreased T. cruzi transmission. Alternatively, locally-acquired Chagas disease may simply be underdiagnozed. At present only four states in the USA list Chagas disease as a reportable illness, and California is not among them. This means that the public, as well as physicians and veterinary practitioners, may have decreased awareness of the dangers posed by this disease.

Based on this research, in areas where Triatoma protracta populations are evident, Chagas disease should be considered as a potential cause of cardiac illness in humans and dogs.

The study is published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Research concludes: Congenital transmission of deadly Chagas disease is a risk in ANY country

January 22, 2015 | News Report-Staff News Editor | Women’s Health Weekly

New Orleans, LA – Tulane University research stated, “Chagas disease is caused by the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi and is endemic in much of Latin America.  With increased globalization and immigration, it is a risk in any country, partly through congenital transmission.”

A quote from the research from Tulane University, “The frequency of congenital transmission is unclear.  To assess the frequency of congenital transmission of T. cruzi. PubMed, Journals@Ovid Full Text, EMBASE, CINAHL, Fuente Academica and BIREME databases were searched using seven search terms related to Chagas disease or T. cruzi and congenital transmission.  The inclusion criteria were the following:  Dutch, English, French, Portuguese or Spanish language; case report, case series or observational study; original data on congenital T. cruzi infection in humans; congenital infection rate reported or it could be derived.  This systematic review included 13 case reports/series and 51 observational studies.  Two investigators independently collected data on study characteristics, diagnosis and congenital infection rate.  The principal summary measure–the congenital transmission rate–is defined as the number of congenitally infected infants divided by the number of infants born to infected mothers.  A random effects model was used.  The pooled congenital transmission rate was 4.7% (95% confidence interval: 3.9-5.6%).  Countries where T. cruzi is endemic had a higher rate of congenital transmission compared with countries where it is not endemic (5.0% versus 2.7%).  Congenital transmission of Chagas disease is a global problem. Overall risk of congenital infection in infants born to infected mothers is about 5%.

Tulane University research concluded “The congenital mode of transmission requires targeted screening to prevent future cases of Chagas disease.”

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

Over Christmas Holiday Another Bed Bug Ridden [4-Star] Hotel…

January 19, 2016 | by Marshanna Hester | CBS58 Milwaukee

GERMANTOWN – The pictures are hard to look at.

“I ended up with a total of 63 bites over my face, neck, arms and primarily torso,” said Kelly Mathieu.

Mathieu said the bites are from bed bugs. It’s a traumatic experience she said has scarred her for life.

“I hope they understand, although I’m just another guest to them, this was difficult to go through,” she said.

Over Christmas, Mathieu and her fiancee stayed two nights at the Radisson Blu Hotel near the Mall of America. When they got back home in Germantown, she knew something was wrong. A visit to the doctor showed she was treated for insect bites.

Mathieu then contacted the hotel who she said told her, they’d reimburse her and take care of the bug problem.

“Please forward me any pictures you’ve taken of the marks that you feel will be relevant for my report,” she read from an email.

Now, more then two weeks later, the hotel said in a statement, “Our first priority is the safety and comfort of our guests. Upon hearing of this concern, the hotel immediately contacted their vendor Ecolab, who conducted a full inspection of the guestroom and adjoining guestrooms. Their findings concluded there were no bed bugs in the rooms.”

“Someone who’s bringing a claim has a burden of proving the landlord, or owner of a property, either knew or should’ve known there was a problem there,” said attorney Jonathan Safran.

Safran said that’s what makes cases like this, slip and falls or food poisoning hard.

He said the minimal damages aren’t worth hiring a lawyer, but you still have the right to file a claim and should report it to the health department.

“You may find out others have filed a complaint,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mathieu is holding out hope she’ll be compensated for her trouble.

“For the items, probably about $500, for the emotional, that’s priceless,” she said.

The hotel is working on a resolution with Mathieu. But, she said the hotel is still going to refund her room fee, and pay for medical bills and luggage she threw away when she got home.

So how do you keep something like this from impacting your next hotel stay? We spoke with a pest control expert about the first thing you should do when you enter your room.

“You know, an inspection of the bed. I’m not saying take it all apart, you know, pull the sheets back, take a look,” said Randy Allen with Will-Kill Pest Control. “Kind of inspect the environment. If there’s anything you see and it kind of triggers something, let hotel staff know.”

Allen said you should look in the crevices of the bed for any potential bugs. Most will be no larger than an apple seed.

He said people react differently to bites, so it may be several days before you realize you have been bitten.

Allen also said the most effective way to kill the bugs is heat. To reduce the chances of bringing the unwanted guests home with you, throw your clothes into the dryer on high heat the first thing you get back.

[It is a known fact that heat has no residual effect on bedbugs and in most cases makes the bedbug infestation worse…the bedbugs hide and multiply.  A. Steiner]

#SayNOtoBedbugs!

NYC Landlord Sues Tenant for Refusing to allow Chemicals into Apartment to treat bedbug infestation.

 The building at 2 Riverside Drive (center) had a bed bug infestation in mid-December and the landlord is suing a tenant for not complying with an extermination plan.

2 Riverside Dr. (center) ‘severe’ bedbug infestation

January 20, 2016 | by Emily Frost | DNAinfo New York

UPPER WEST SIDE — The owner of a Riverside Drive residential building is suing a renter for allegedly allowing a “severe” bedbug infestation to intensify by ignoring an exterminator’s instructions to treat the apartment after it was deemed the epicenter of the outbreak.

The landlord is suing tenant James Behan, who rents a second-floor studio apartment in 2 Riverside Drive at West 72nd Street, for more than $300,000 in damages and legal fees, according to the suit filed last week in state Supreme Court.

Behan made the infestation worse by refusing to comply with an exterminator’s demands and repeatedly re-infesting the apartment, which cost the landlord money and left the 24-unit building open to lawsuits that could be brought by other tenants, the suit said.

After hearing from several residents that there were bedbugs in their apartments, the landlord notified everyone in the building of the problem on Dec. 14, 2015, and said an exterminator would be coming two days later, the suit said.

An exterminator determined on Dec. 16 that five apartments had bedbugs and that Behan’s had the “worst infestation,” with the insects visible on the “baseboards, outlets, ceilings, and all over the furniture” of his apartment, according to the lawsuit.

Behan did not seal up infested clothing and personal items as instructed by the exterminator and was seen setting them aside in the hallway without any plastic bags to contain the critters, the suit said. He also refused to dispose of clothes and other personal property per the exterminator’s request, and did not allow the exterminator to use certain chemicals to rids his apartment of the infestation, the suit said.

Additionally, the landlord wanted the exterminator to treat Behan’s car after bugs were found there, but Behan refused to grant access to the vehicle, leading the landlord to believe the infestation spread again from his car back into the apartment, the suit noted.

The lawsuit alleges that Behan also regularly visited another location with an infestation and spread those bedbugs to his apartment. He also left his unit’s door open, the suit said.

Behan has “no valid justification” for not complying and he produced an “ongoing bedbug problem” in his apartment, as well as creating “unsafe” conditions for other tenants, who still have bedbug issues, the suit said.

In addition to hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages and legal fees, the landlord is also seeking an injunction from the court to prevent Behan from interfering with extermination.

Behan could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

The attorney representing owner 2 Riverside Drive LLC did not respond to a request for comment.

#SayNOtoPesticides!