Woman warns – her dog was given ‘kiss of death’ from Kissing Bug bite

April 3, 2016 | by Nestor Mato | CBS 4 News

Many triatomine bugs carry the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease.

San Benito woman warns about potentially deadly Chagas disease spread by ‘kissing bug’

For Lisa Leal’s dog, a bug bite became the kiss of death.

A triatomine bug — commonly called a kissing bug — bit her 8-month-old dog.”I feel bad because she’s been given, literally, a death sentence,” said Leal, who lives in San Benito.

Many triatomine bugs carry the parasite Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease.

“The bugs are found in houses made from materials such as mud, adobe, straw, and palm thatch. During the day, the bugs hide in crevices in the walls and roofs,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. “During the night, when the inhabitants are sleeping, the bugs emerge. Because they tend to feed on people’s faces, triatomine bugs are also known as ‘kissing bugs.'”

Chagas disease may later cause intestinal and cardiac complications, including sudden death.

Leal’s dog is already suffering heart problems.

Veterinarian Noel Ramirez said there’s no sure way to avoid Chagas disease.

“It happens within city limits. It happens out in the country,” Ramirez said. “There’s not a whole lot of prevention that we can do.”

In humans, Chagas disease can be diagnosed with a blood test. Treatment varies depending on the symptoms.

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BedBugs…they’re back or never left? at this NY High School

March 31, 2016 | by Katarina Schmieder | WIVB News 4

LACKAWANNA, N.Y. (WIVB) — 18-year-old Ryan Blair is a senior at Lackawanna High School. He says he is fed up with the bed bug problem at his school.
Ryan described what happened to his friend who allegedly was bitten during school. Ryan said, “Her neck was swollen because it looked like a mosquito bite, and it hurt her. At first, she said it didn’t hurt, but then it started to. She had bumps all over her hand.”Ryan says the girl was sent home after visiting the nurse’s office after her supposed contact with bed bugs, and says that sometimes when he gets home from school, he has some of the same symptoms.

He wishes more would be done about this problem. “It’s slowly becoming more and more of a problem in the school that we are finding more and more bugs, and it seems like the school is not recognizing it.”

On Wednesday, parents were put on alert by the school after staff found what appeared to resemble a bed bug at the school. The letter says even though they found a potential bed bug, it does not mean the building is infested. The letter goes on to say that the school has an exterminator to treat certain rooms.

Back in December, News 4 reported that the school warned parents and students after finding the bug in a classroom. But now, Ryan wants to know, why is this happening again?

He says, “It’s disgusting, and the fact that we are seeing bugs crawling around our school, not only that, but what if a student brings one home, it’s just going to cause problems all over the place.”

News 4 tried reaching out to the district superintendent for a comment, but have yet to hear back.

Below is a copy of the letter that was sent home to parents:

bed bug letter

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High School students sent home with letter “bedbugs found”

March 31, 2016 | by Taylor Stuck |The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON, WV – Huntington High School students were sent home Thursday with a letter alerting parents bed bugs were found in the school.

Jedd Flowers, Cabell County Schools communications director, said one or two bugs were found, probably “hitchhiking” in on a student.

“It’s pretty common these days,” he said. “It’s not an infestation of the building.”

Flowers said every student was sent home with a letter because the high school students travel throughout the school for classes, so it would be impossible to determine who came in contact.

The school will follow state protocol, calling in an exterminator to assess the building. Flowers said they will check for bugs and vacuum. If that does not rid the building of the problem, chemicals will be used.

Flowers said they just want to make sure parents and guardians are aware, and to ask them to let the school know if bed bugs are in their home. Cabell County Schools will help families who need assistance ridding their homes of bed bugs.

Residential bed bugs have been on the rise across the country, said Stan Mills, program manager at the Cabell-Huntington Health Department.

Mills said a couple bed bugs at the high school is as common as the school having a cricket, and the chance of a bed bug being taken home by a student is about the same chance of that student winning the lottery.

Mills said the health department worries more about people overdosing on chemicals to remove bed bugs than people having bed bugs in the first place.

“Chemicals are not the only treatment,” he said.

Bed bugs are small, oval, brownish insects that live on the blood of animals or humans. Adult bed bugs have flat bodies about the size of an apple seed.

Initial hiding places are typically in mattresses, box springs, bed frames and headboards. Bed bugs bite in the night, and a spot of blood can also be seen on sheets.

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Terminix fined $10 million for its use of dangerous pesticide

gross_negligence.jpg
TODAY, March 30, 2016 | Chicago Tribune

A pest-control company has agreed to pay $10 million in penalties for using a dangerous pesticide at a U.S. Virgin Islands resort where a Delaware family fell critically ill, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.

Terminix International Company LP and its U.S. Virgin Islands operation agreed to plead guilty to four counts of violating federal pesticide law in a deal with prosecutors that still needs to be approved by a judge.

According to information filed Tuesday in federal court in the U.S. District Court of the Virgin Islands, the Wilmington family was staying at the Sirenusa resort in St. John last March when they were exposed to methyl bromide, which had been sprayed in an adjacent unit.

Stephen Esmond, an administrator at the Tatnall School in Wilmington, his wife, Theresa Devine, a dentist, and their two teenage sons, were hospitalized. The sons spent weeks in medically induced comas.

The family was blessed by Pope Francis at a brief meeting at Philadelphia International Airport as the pontiff was leaving the city following his weekend visit in September.

Methyl bromide can cause convulsions, coma, and cognitive deficits. The indoor use of products containing the chemical was banned by the federal government in 1984 and the remaining uses are highly restricted.

As part of the plea deal, Terminix agreed to make good faith efforts to cover medical expenses for the family through a separate civil proceeding. If the expenses are not resolved, prosecutors said they may reopen the sentencing proceedings.

The four criminal counts cover the illegal use of methyl bromide twice at the St. John resort, once in St. Croix, and once in St. Thomas.

“The facts in this case show the Terminix companies knowingly failed to properly manage their pest control operations in the U.S. Virgin Islands, allowing pesticides containing methyl bromide to be applied illegally and exposing a family of four to profoundly debilitating injuries,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden.

ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc., the parent company of Terminix, filed a notice Tuesday to investors about the plea agreement. Citing the judge’s pending decision on the plea deal, a company spokesman declined to comment.

ServiceMaster.png[ServiceMaster Global Holdings Inc. owns Terminix, Merry Maids, Furniture Medic, American Home Shield, AmeriSpec, ServiceMaster Clean and ServiceMaster Restore.]

The $10 million in penalties include $8 million in fines, $1 million in restitution for the government’s response and cleanup at the St. John resort, and $1 million to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to fund training for pesticide applicators in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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Wide Range of Diseases Linked to Pesticides

Vol. 30, No. 2, Summer 2010 | Pesticides and You | by Kagan Owens, Jay Feldman
and John Kepner

Beyond Agricultural Pesticide Exposure – Asthma, Autism, ADHD, ADD, Birth Defects, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Brain Cancer, Breast Cancer, Leukemia, Learning Disorders, Parkinson’s and on and …

While agriculture has traditionally been tied to pesticide-related illnesses, of the 40 most commonly used pesticides in schools, 28 can cause cancer, 14 are linked to endocrine disruption, 26 can adversely affect reproduction, 26 are nervous system poisons and 13
can cause birth defects. Of of the 30 most commonly used lawn pesticides, 19 can cause cancer, 13 are linked to birth defects, 21 can affect reproduction and 15 are nervous system toxicants. A number of published studies using animal toxicity data and human cells/tissue laboratory data also show that pesticides are linked to several major public health problems.

Epidemiology: The Challenge of Finding Patterns of Harm

Despite evidence to the contrary, chemical industry critics of epidemiologic studies linking pesticides to major diseases argue that they are of limited value because of their reliance on records and study participants’ memory, among other issues. In fact, the correlation
of patterns of chemical use with an effect is difficult to establish in epidemiology and therefore may underestimate hazard effects.  When a correlation is established it raises serious concern.  The epidemiologic studies in the Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database show an overall pattern that links pesticide exposure to major diseases.

Endocrine Disruption

Common household products –detergents, disinfectants, plastics, and pesticides– contain chemical ingredients that enter the body, disrupt hormones and cause adverse developmental, disease, and reproductive problems. Known as endocrine disruptors, these
chemicals, which interact with the endocrine system, wreak havoc in humans and wildlife.
Endocrine System
The endocrine system consists of a set of glands (thyroid, gonads, adrenal and pituitary) and the hormones they produce (thyroxine, estrogen, testosterone and adrenaline),
which help guide the development, growth, reproduction, and behavior of animals, including humans. Hormones are signaling molecules, which travel through the bloodstream and elicit responses in other parts of the body. Endocrine disruptors function by: (i) Mimicking the action of a naturally-produced hormone, such as estrogen or testosterone, thereby setting off similar chemical reactions in the body; (ii) Blocking hormone receptors in cells, thereby preventing the action of normal hormones; or (iii) Affecting the synthesis, transport, metabolism and excretion of hormones, thus altering the concentrations of natural hormones. Endocrine disruptors havebeen linked to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, early puberty, infertility and other reproductive disorders, and childhood and adult cancers.
More than 50 pesticide active ingredients have been identified as endocrine disruptors by the European Union and endocrine disruptor expert Theo Colborn, PhD. Endocrine disruption is the mechanism for several health effect endpoints.
To view this article in its entirety see Beyond Pesticides – Pesticides and You.
Database can be viewed here at Pesticide-Induced Diseases Database.

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11 things parents need to know about kissing bugs, aka ‘love bugs’ but are NOT, both ARE cousins to BedBug and deadly Chagas Disease

Baby_Chagas.jpg

December 4, 2015 | by Dr. Peter Hotez, President of Sabin Vaccine Institute

Experts at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine have been studying Chagas disease and working on a therapeutic vaccine for it. Here are the important things to know about the kissing bug and about Chagas disease:

1.  Chagas disease, also known as American trypanosomiasis, is a serious infection caused by a parasitic microorganism, Trypanosoma cruzi, and is transmitted by kissing bugs.

2.  Chagas disease is a leading cause of heart disease resulting in a debilitating and often fatal condition known as Chagasic cardiomyopathy. One in six people with Chagasic cardiomyopathy will die within five years.

3.  An estimated 9 million people are infected in the Western Hemisphere, mostly in impoverished areas. According to the World Health Organization, the largest number of people living with Chagas disease are in poor areas of Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, while Bolivia has the highest percentage of people infected.

4.  The infection can be passed from mother to baby. There are an estimated 40,000 pregnant women in North America alone who have Chagas, and they will transmit the infection to their babies around 5 percent of the time.

5.  The CDC estimates that 300,000 cases occur in the United States, mostly imported from Latin America.

6.  Scientists at the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor, including Drs. Kristy Murray and Melissa Nolan Garcia, have uncovered a previously unrecognized level of transmission in the state of Texas.

7.  A high percentage of the kissing bugs in Texas are infected with the trypanosome parasite and show evidence of feeding on human blood.

8.  Dogs, cats and horses also can be infected.

9.  Researchers are finding cases among hunters and campers, as well as people who live in poverty in Texas. Those with extended outdoor exposure appear to have the greatest risk of acquiring the disease.

10.  Repeat exposures are likely necessary to acquire infection.

11.  Drug treatments are available, but they do not always work and are highly toxic. In collaboration with the Sabin Vaccine Institute and the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, the National School of Tropical Medicine is developing a new therapeutic vaccine for Chagas disease.

About Dr. Peter Hotez, president of Sabin Vaccine Institute: The US Science Envoy, Dean for the National School of Tropical Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital Chair in Tropical Pediatrics and President-Sabin Vaccine Institute.

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Psychological Effects of BedBug Attacks

The American Journal of Medicine | by Jerome Goddard, PhD., Richard de Shazo, MD

January 2012, Volume 125 Issue 1

Background

In some individuals, psychological sequelae resulting from bed bug biting events include nightmares, flashbacks, hypervigilance (to keep the bugs away), insomnia, anxiety, avoidance behaviors, and personal dysfunction. These symptoms are suggestive of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

We used a previously published PTSD checklist to analyze online blogs and other Internet sites where bed bug postings occur to assess postings for evidence of emotional trauma.

One hundred thirty-five postings were read and analyzed, and 110 (81%) of those postings reported psychological effects from bed bug infestations. Scoring with the PTSD checklist revealed a range of 0-52 (mean 13.25; SD 9.38); one met the criteria (≥50) considered positive for PTSD.

Conclusions

Based upon our survey of online postings concerning such effects, an as-yet-to-be-determined proportion of individuals who experience bed bug bites develop moderate-to-severe negative emotional symptoms after infestations. These individuals should be identified in the course of their interactions with health professionals so that appropriate mental health care may be provided.

symptoms.jpg

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BedBugs show resistance to pesticides: What now?

Why chemicals used to fight bed bugs aren’t working any longer was revealed in a new study that compared today’s bed bugs with those that have been isolated in a lab for 30 years.

February 1, 2016 | by Lonnie Shekhtman | The Christian Science Monitor

The chemicals used to fight bed bug infestations are no longer working, say scientists from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and New Mexico State University. The tiny pests have developed a resistance to the most commonly used type of insecticides, called neonicotinoids, or neonics, which is part of the reason there has been a resurgence of them in the last couple of decades.

“While we all want a powerful tool to fight bed bug infestations, what we are using as a chemical intervention is not working as effectively it was designed and, in turn, people are spending a lot of money on products that aren’t working,” Troy Anderson, an assistant professor of entomology in the Virginia Tech College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, said in an announcement last week.

In an experiment, researchers compared bed bugs from homes in Cincinnati and Michigan that had been previously exposed to neonics with those that a researcher has kept isolated in a lab for 30 years, dating back to a time before the insecticides were used commercially.

In results published Thursday in the Journal of Medical Entomology, Dr. Anderson and Alvaro Romero, an assistant professor of entomology at New Mexico State University, reported that the bed bugs that had been isolated in a lab for 30 years died when treated with a small amount of neonics. Those collected from homes in Cincinnati and Michigan showed much higher resistance to the chemical treatment.

The team also tested bedbugs from New Jersey that were already resistant to pyrethroids, another class of widely used insecticides often mixed with neonics, but had been isolated from neonics since 2008. Those bugs were more susceptible to the insecticides than the ones from Cincinnati and Michigan, but not as much as the isolated bedbugs.

“Companies need to be vigilant for hints of declining performance of products that contain neonicotinoids,” Dr. Romero said in a study announcement.

“For example, bed bugs persisting on previously treated surfaces might be an indication of resistance. In these cases, laboratory confirmation of resistance is advised, and if resistance is detected, products with different modes of action need to be considered, along with the use of non-chemical methods,” he said.

Bed bugs are particularly burdensome in apartment buildings, where they can spread to many units. They are also more problematic for low-income, elderly, and disabled people who can’t spot the tiny red bug and often don’t have the means to get rid of them, say researchers from Virginia Tech.

Bed bugs thrive in beds, couches, and around electrical outlets and cause hundreds of bites a night.

“When well-off people get bed bugs, it’s an inconvenience. But when low-income families get them, there aren’t many options,” said Molly Stedfast, who worked with bed bugs as a graduate entomology student at Virginia Tech in 2013.

“Those who can’t afford the treatments,” she says, often end up living with bed bugs for a long time.

Virginia Tech’s pest lab recommends a nontoxic, non-neonic treatment that can be applied to the inside perimeter of an apartment. The treatment is diatomaceous earth, a dust made from fossilized remains of diatoms, a type of hard-shelled algae. Researchers said this dust has been used to control pests for more than a century. It clings to the bed bugs as they walk through it, absorbs moisture, and kills them via dehydration.

“We treat the perimeter of the apartment to isolate infestations in one unit and not allow them to spread. It is a lot less expensive to treat one apartment than every unit in the building,” said Dini Miller, a professor of entomology at Virginia Tech.

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NBA Teams Sleep Elsewhere When Playing Against OKC Thunder

Skirvin.jpgMarch 23, 2016 | by Erik Horne| NewsOK

Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving left a Feb. 21 game against the Thunder with “flu-like symptoms,” but what raised eyebrows were Irving’s comments the next day about the Skirvin Hilton.

When Irving blamed his bad night’s sleep on bedbugs, it fostered concern about one of Oklahoma City’s premier stops for NBA teams. What once was a hotel known primarily for its legend of Effie the housekeeper haunting its halls, the Skirvin has had to recently tangle with more than ghost stories.

It’s been a month since Irving’s run-in with bedbugs and the Skirvin’s swift response. In that span, some NBA teams have elected to stay elsewhere despite the Skirvin going to lengths to alleviate fears.

In a press release to The Oklahoman, the Skirvin said it’s reached out to numerous teams following the bedbugs incident to brief them on its “aggressive” response: quarantine of the affected room, then inspection of the surrounding rooms from environmental experts at Ecolab — a globally recognized hygiene technology company.

The Ecolab tests found surrounding rooms weren’t affected, yet all 225 rooms were treated as a precaution.

Despite the Skirvin’s efforts, the Thunder has since hosted five home games and only one of its opponents (Portland) has stayed there. At least two of those teams, however, had long-standing relationships with other hotels.

Before this season, Golden State and Minnesota had been staying at the Colcord and Sheraton, respectively. The L.A. Clippers and Houston, however, each stayed at the Skirvin before switching to the Sheraton for their most recent visits.

“Yeah, worried about bedbugs,” Clippers coach Doc Rivers said on March 9. “It was really … I think once that happened I think everyone pretty much reacted and decided to change the place.”

 

The Skirvin said a few teams have opted to stay in other hotels, but even those teams have expressed their desire to eventually return to the Skirvin.  When NBA teams book reservations, however, it’s not as easy as just picking any hotel.

According to the NBA’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (Article XVIII, Section I), teams have to use their best efforts in accommodating its players on the road. Baggage has to be picked up by porters, the hotels must be first class and extra long beds must be available. Teams can actually be fined $5,000 if they commit a “willful violation” of these requirements.

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Listen to why ‘Don’t let the bed bugs bite’ is easier said than done

James Williams, head of furniture donations at the Impossible Dream thrift store, shows how he inspects mattresses for bedbugs.  Photo Brit Hanson for North Country Public Radio

March 21, 2016 | by Julie Botero | WRVO Public Media

Bedbugs, those creepy crawly pests that embed themselves into mattresses and furniture, are a problem in big cities across the country. The bugs have managed to find their way to smaller cities in the North Country.

Watertown is now dealing with the pests and the stigma that comes with them.

Back in September, a friend told me she was dealing with a serious bed bug issue. Her name is Kris Rusho and I gave her a call a few weeks ago to get the whole story.

“I happened to wake up early one morning — about 5:30 in the morning — and I looked down and I saw a bug on my arm and I smashed it with my hand and my hand came away with blood. My first thought was it was tick, but I started doing some research and found out those were bedbugs,” Rusho said. “I went to my car and cried.”

“I think what I’ve learned from this is that bedbugs can be in the nicest of houses,” she said.

Bedbugs are small but multiply quickly. Bedbugs are small and black like apple seeds. They bite people when they’re asleep. Those bites can cause allergic reactions that can get infected. Rusho had to throw away her mattress and clothing. She cried a little more and moved into a friend’s house. Even long after the bed bugs were gone, she couldn’t shake them.”I still suffered from these phantom itches and phantom bites where I’d wake up at 4 a.m., afraid,” she said. “It doesn’t go away for a little bit.”

Bed bugs can lead to loss of sleep and other mental issues that are as bad as the bites. They also hitch rides on clothing and furniture which allows them to spread to new homes. That is why they are a public health issue.

Steve Jennings, a member of the Watertown City Council who works with the county public health department, said his office, along with community nonprofits in Watertown, are getting calls from people asking for help. Jennings said the demand was so high, his office organized an education forum on the bugs.

He said the big takeaway was this: “Normal pesticides you’d buy at a drug store do not work with bed bugs. They are resistant. It really needs to be professionally abated,” he said.

But hiring a professional exterminator can be costly. A few months ago, one fed-up resident in a downtown apartment tried to concoct a homemade pesticide bomb. He ended up starting a fire in his apartment. Neighbors of Watertown, a group that owns six apartment buildings in the city, has already spent more than $20,000 trying to get rid of the bugs.

Jennings said everyone needs to work together on this.

“The tenants really have to do their part in controlling it. Don’t bring this stuff home. When you see it, take care of it,” he said.

At the Impossible Dream thrift store, shoppers browse through racks of clothing, used couches and coffee tables. The staff have to be extra cautions about what they allow in the store. James Williams oversees furniture donations. Williams showed me a binder with a laminated fact sheet. It details how to spot bedbugs. He pulled out a tiny flashlight and leaned over a couch.

“Before we even accept it, before we even take it off a customer’s truck we look at it thoroughly, we look at the seams like this, we pull up the cushions, we look in the corners. We’re looking for bedbugs,” he said.

The store hasn’t had any encounters with the critters. That is really important to the store, he said, since the last thing they want to do is pass on the problem.

Watertown has been working hard to make their downtown an attractive place to live. I asked people if this bedbug issue is thwarting that effort. Kris Rusho said the bedbugs are not just in downtown apartments.

“I think what I’ve learned from this is that bedbugs can be in the nicest of houses,” she said.

Rusho had advice for others dealing with the pests. “You have to get mad at the bed bugs and force yourself to deal with them.”

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