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

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

What happened to the bees? If other countries around the world (and now some states in the U.S.) are banning these pesticides WHY is Massachusetts not doing their due diligence/finding the truth?

March 30, 2016 | by Cherise Hoak | Wicked Local Westport News

It seems as though the divide between the beekeepers and the state is still growing and the big elephant in the room is the use of pesticide poisoning.

Although the beekeepers have seen firsthand the effects of the pesticides on their hives, it seems the state is still in denial when it comes to the truth.

Currently, the Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources (MDAR) is attempting to adopt a “Pollinator Protection Plan” and is holding “listening” sessions in various locations in order to get input from the various beekeepers and farmers that this plan would impact.

The beekeepers, on one hand, have written up their own “Pollinator Protection Plan” and are asking the state to adopt their plan instead of what the state is trying to implement. Each plan has its own merits and each group thinks their plan is for the best practice. It does not seem, in the long run, that either side will get anywhere in the near future.

On March 21, MDAR held one of its “listening” sessions at Bristol Aggie and invited those interested to come and talk so that MDAR could listen and take notes on their concerns regarding the draft plan by the state.

Several beekeepers came to this meeting along with the superintendent-director of Bristol Aggie, and many of the beekeepers voiced their concerns regarding the lack of regulation regarding pesticide usage, which is one of the main problems facing the beekeepers to date.  Without concrete proof that pesticides, namely neonicotinoids, are the cause of bee die-offs, the state’s regulations fall short in protecting the bees and beekeepers from hive losses.

The beekeepers have tried and continue to try to get the state’s attention on this matter, especially when they have perfect hives one day only to find thousands upon thousands of dead and dying bees in front of their hives the next day.

The beekeepers have done what is expected of them by calling in the state’s apiary inspector when this occurs.

But according to some of the beekeepers, nothing has come out of this reporting to their satisfaction.

From what I gathered at this “listening” session, the state has not provided or cannot provide concrete proof that the bee die-offs are directly related to pesticide poisoning. One way or the other, the burden of proof should lie on the state and should be mandated by the state to prove that pesticides are harmful to our pollinators.

The beekeepers, as I have seen firsthand, have already seen the destruction of these poisons on their beehives. And you have to ask yourself, if other countries around the world are banning these pesticides from being used and now some of the states in the United States, most recent being Maryland, are banning these pesticides, then why is Massachusetts not doing their due diligence in helping both the farmers and beekeepers alike in finding the truth.

My only concern in this matter came unexpectedly in the “listening” session on March 21 when the superintendent of Bristol Aggie spoke up and was the only person in this meeting to have doubts on the validity of the pesticide damage to the bees. But then again, if your school is partnering with Monsanto on the “AG and STEM” Symposium (http://www.monsanto.com/whoweare/pages/education.aspx), I guess you have no choice in the matter with regards to the educational value that you might be getting from one of the biggest chemical companies.

As for the farmers, I have great respect for them and I firmly believe that they are not intentionally harming the bees. They, of all people involved, have more to lose than anyone else in this game of chemicals and money.

My biggest concern is that the chemicals provided to the general public are one of the most dangerous things that could ever have happened. This is like boxing up hand grenades and selling them as gopher removal and telling the public it’s safe to use!

Until the state puts regulations on these chemicals that are so readily available to the public, in my opinion, I think the farmers are going to continue to get blamed for the bee kills instead of handing the blame directly to those that sell the pesticides to the public and to the independent contractors who have no knowledge on how to use them let alone when the proper time is to use them.  Until such time as all parties can come to an agreement on the danger of pesticides, efforts first and foremost should be toward educating our public on the dangers of pesticides and the proper use of them.

 

 

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

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.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

‘Kissing bug’ sickens more in Los Angeles than Zika and few know they have it – deadly Chagas disease

This insect bites people near the lips or eyes, inserts bacteria, then about 20 years later, the victim suffers a heart attack. Olive View-UCLA Medical

March 28, 2016 |by Susan Abram | Daily News, Los Angeles

This insect bites people near the lips or eyes, inserts bacteria, then about 20 years later, the victim suffers a heart attack.  Olive View-UCLA Medical Center is working to help detect Chagas. The clinic is holding community screenings across the San Fernando Valley to find people who may be infected.

Some call it the kissing bug because it leaves a painless bite near a sleeping person’s lips.

But among health experts, including those from the federal government, the cone-headed Triatomine is no prince awakening a sleeping beauty. It’s an assassin, because it leaves behind a parasite in its love bite that can be deadly.

Photos of the dime-size insect hang inside Dr. Sheba Meymandi’s medical office as if on a wanted poster. The bug, she said, carries the Chagas disease, which can cause heart failure if left untreated.

An estimated 300,000 people across the United States may have Chagas disease, Meymandi said, and the only place in the nation where it’s treated is the clinic she oversees at Olive View-UCLA Medical Center in Sylmar. Started in 2007, the Chagas clinic has treated 200 people, but Meymandi and her team said they are ready to take on more patients.

That’s why she and her staff are working with primary physicians at the four hospitals and 19 health clinics overseen by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services. In addition, Providence Health & Services will offer Chagas screenings at a dozen free health clinics on Sundays at churches across the San Fernando Valley for the rest of the year. An upcoming screening will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. April 3 at New Hope of the Nazarene, 15055 Oxnard St, Van Nuys, California.

“It’s very clear that we need to diagnose early and treat early before the onset of complications,” said Meymandi, a cardiologist. Ten percent of those with Chagas suffer from heart failure, one of the most expensive conditions to treat, costing $32 billion year nationwide, she said. That figure could rise to $70 billion by 2030.

Chagas disease was once considered exotic, but more is known about it now than about the Zika virus. Still, most people have no idea they have it or, once they do, lack information about where to receive treatment, Meymandi said.

The disease is most common in rural Mexico and Latin America, researchers have said, adding that it kills more people in South America than malaria.Meymandi said anyone who was born in Mexico or South America should have a blood test.

But U.S.-born residents also are infected. The insect is present in more than 20 states. At least 40 percent of raccoons tested in Griffith Park carried Chagas disease, Meymandi said.

“Most of the people we see and treat in the U.S. have had it for decades,” Meymandi said. “We have the bug here, we have the parasite here. You can definitely acquire Chagas in the United States.”

An infected insect, which hides in dwellings made from mud, adobe, straw or palm thatch, crawls out at night to feed on blood. It is called the kissing bug because it feeds on a sleeper’s face, then defecates on the wound, leaving a parasite behind.

Infection takes place when the parasite enters the body through mucous membranes or broken skin, caused when the sleeper scratches the wound, eyes or mouth, according to the federal Centers for Disease and Prevention. The parasite can lie dormant for years, then cause heart disease, and if not found and treated, death.

Symptoms can include fever, fatigue, body aches, headaches, rash, loss of appetite, diarrhea and vomiting. But sometimes there are no symptoms until decades later.

Only two drugs exist to treat Chagas disease, and neither is approved by the U.S. Federal Drug Administration yet, though both can be provided through the CDC, Meymandi said.

“It’s very simple to treat,” Meymandi said. “But the process to go get the drugs is a challenge.”

Jose Duran, a Bellflower resident, said he learned he had Chagas disease after he tried to donate blood seven months ago. He said he would have never known he had Chagas disease otherwise. He had no symptoms.

“I went to donate blood for the first time, because I heard it was good for you to donate once in a while,” he said. Then he received a phone call.

It’s not uncommon for people to learn they have Chagas disease after donating blood, Meymandi and others said. In 2006, the Red Cross isolated 21 cases of Chagas in Southern California donors. In 2007, the figure more than doubled to 46. In 2008, there were 55 cases.

The National Red Cross would not provide additional figures.

“I got scared. I was like, wow, what is this?” the 40 year old Duran said of his reaction,when he learned what he had.

As a child, Duran lived on a ranch in Querétaro, a small state in north-central Mexico. His brother also tested positive for Chagas. He doesn’t remember being bitten, he said.

Duran was referred to the Chagas clinic and, after two months of treatment, learned Thursday he was in good health.

“Most people don’t know they have this,” he said. “If they get tested, they can get well.”

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

 

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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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.

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

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.”

#SayNOtoPESTICIDES!

 

 

Leading cause of death in Men is caused by Chagas Disease & Heart failure 

Chagas Disease affects approximately 20 million worldwide, killing 50,000 each year, yet is practically unknown to most in the general public in the US.

If infected, you may not even know initially you have Chagas disease. It can slowly destroy your internal organs, and if you do not die from the acute stage, can cause death in the chronic stage, 10-20 years later.

Chagas is spreading worldwide — due to lack of knowledge and indifference.

Endemic in 21 countries, with 18-20 million infected and another 120 million people at risk

25% of the population of Latin America is at risk of acquiring Chagas Disease

More than 100,000 Latin American immigrants living in the United States are chronically infected and a potential source of transmission of the disease by means of blood transfusions

The disease is lethal, especially for children, and debilitates patients for years.

Previously thought to be endemic in Mexico, South and Latin America, other areas of the world such as the US and Europe are considering testing all blood donations for the parasite, T. cruzi, for the parasite that causes the disease due to travel patterns and rural migrations of populations to urban areas. 

 Chest radiograph of a Bolivian patient with chronic Trypanosoma cruzi infection, congestive heart failure, and rhythm disturbances. Pacemaker wires can be seen in the area of the left ventricle.

Infected triatomine bugs, that transmit T.cruzi, are found in North, Central and South America. Blood banks in selected cities of the continent vary between 3.0 and 53.0% -making the prevalence of T. cruzi infected blood higher than that of Hepatitis B, C, and HIV infection

In parts of South America, Chagas’ heart disease is the leading cause of death in men less than 45 years of age.

Blood transfusions in the US should be screened for antibodies to T.Cruzi; currently U.S. blood banks do not routinely conduct this screening.  

Numerous acute and chronic cases of the disease have been reported in domestic dogs in Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana, South Carolina and Virginia

It is not known how many dogs or humans in the US actually have the disease due to lack of testing and reporting

The disease may be transmitted by the bite of an infected triaomine, (reduviid, “kissing”, or “assassin”) bugs, or through blood transfusion or transplacentally

In Texas infection rates in kissing bugs are reported to be 17-48%, in other states infection rates may not be known due to lack of knowledge about the disease and inadequate studies with regards to sampling bugs for the disease

The kissing bugs, or carriers of this disease, could be as close as your backyard.

Posted in August 3, 2012 | by CHAGAS Disease Biology Blogspot

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Deadly CHAGAS: An Emerging Infectious Disease Threat In U.S.

October 1, 2015 | by Judy Stone | Forbes

Chagas, a parasitic disease, is the latest invisible killer infection to be recognized as a growing threat here. The infection is transmitted by the Triatomine bug, known as the “kissing” bug. The bugs infect people through bites—often near the eyes or mouth—or when their infected feces are accidentally rubbed into eyes or mucous membranes. Some transmission occurs from mother to child during pregnancy. Occasionally, transmission is through contaminated food or drink.   Triatoma sanguisuga – CDC/James Gathany

Most people in the U.S. with Chagas disease probably became infected as children, living in Latin America. The infection often has few symptoms early on, but after several decades, strikes fatally, often with sudden death from heart disease. I suspect that, similar to Lyme disease, the magnitude of disease and deaths from the protozoan parasite, Trypanosoma cruzi, which causes Chagas disease, is unrecognized in the U.S.

 2014 map of blood donors testing positive for CHAGAS disease. 

In Latin America, however, up to 12 million people might be infected, with a third going on to develop life-threatening heart complications. Chagas is a major cause of congestive heart failure and cardiac deaths, with an estimated 11,000 people dying annually, according to the WHO.

There are an estimated 300,167 people with Trypanosoma cruzi infection the U.S., including 40,000 pregnant women in North America. There are 30,000-45,000 cardiomyopathy cases and 63-315 congenital infections each year. Most of the people come from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, or Argentina; Bolivia has the highest rate of Chagas in the world.

But in the U.S., we don’t often think of Chagas. Even as an infectious disease physician, I’ve never treated anyone with it, and it is not on my radar. So when a physician sees a patient who may have come to the U.S. as a child, and now has diabetes and hypertension, he or she is likely to attribute the heart disease to that and not look for infection. In fact, though, there are large pockets of undiagnosed disease. For example, a survey in Los Angeles of patients with a new diagnosis of cardiomyopathy who had lived in Latin America for at least a year, found 19% had Chagas disease, and they had a worse prognosis than those without the infection.

There are other reasons Chagas is overlooked. One is that Chagas is not a reportable disease except in four states, and Texas only began reporting in 2010. Most cases here have been detected by screening of blood donations, which has found about 1 in every 27,500 donors to be infected, according to CDC. However, a 2014 survey showed “one in every 6,500 blood donors tested positive for exposure to the parasite that causes Chagas disease.” A map of positive donations is here. While the triatome bugs are most common in the southern half of the U.S., they are actually quite widespread, as shown here.
Much bigger barriers to diagnosis are social and cultural. Many patients lack health insurance. Others are undocumented immigrants fearing deportation. Health literacy and language barriers are huge. There is a stigma associated with the diagnosis, as there is for many patients with TB, as Chagas is associated with poverty and poor living conditions. As Daisy Hernández noted in her excellent story in the Atlantic, “it’s hard, if not impossible, for moms with Chagas and no health insurance to see the doctors who would connect them to the CDC” and “patients don’t necessarily have savings in case they have adverse reactions to the medication and can’t work.”

There are pockets of Chagas in the states, including Los Angeles, the Washington metropolitan area, and the Texas border, where there are large immigrant communities from endemic areas. But I suspect that with climate change, we’ll see more Chagas in the southwest U.S., as more triatomine bugs are found further north. One recent study found more than 60% of the collected bugs carried the Trypanosome parasite, up from 40-50% in two similar studies. There are also now seven reports of Chagas infection that are clearly autochthonous, or locally acquired. University of Pennsylvania researcher Michael Levy has shown that bedbugs might be capable of transmitting Chagas, but no one has shown that they actually do. Entomologist and Wired author Gwen Pearson nicely explains why bedbugs are an unlikely vector and notes that you “far more likely to be injured by misusing pesticides to try to exterminate” them.

There’s more bad news. Treatment for Chagas is effective if given early in infection, although with significant side effects. There is no effective treatment for late stages of gastrointestinal or cardiac disease. A newly released study showed that benznidazole was no more effective than placebo in reducing cardiac complications, even though it reduced levels of parasites in the blood.

   Trypanasoma cruzi parasite in heart tissue – CDC

The two drugs available to treat Chagas, benznidazole and nifurtimox, are not yet FDA approved and are only available through the CDC under investigational protocols. Both carry significant side effects. Treatment of children with early Chagas is generally effective but, as with many drugs, treatment is hampered by lack of data on pediatric dosing and limited formulations. There is little research funding for new drug development, with less than US $1 million (0.04% of R&D funding dedicated to neglected diseases) focused on new drugs for Chagas disease, according to the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi).

Where do we go from here? The most immediate and cost-effective proposals are to increase surveillance for disease and screening of high-risk populations. Since the most effective treatment is given early in the course of infection, screening of pregnant women and children is a priority, as is education for these women and Ob-Gyn physicians.
While there is no effective treatment for advanced disease, efforts are underway to develop a vaccine against Chagas. The National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine just received a boost from a $2.6 million grant from the Carlos Slim Foundation for their initiative.

Chagas, like sickle cell, highlights disparities in access to screening and early treatment for serious illnesses disproportionately affecting the poor and people of color. While a moral and ethical issue, the choices made to gut public health programs for “cost saving” will also be unnecessarily costly in the end.

#SayNoToPesticides!

BedBugs Destroyed My Life – “Don’t Bring Them Home!”

  
March 19, 2016 | by Maryam Shah | Toronto Sun

She may be the unluckiest renter in Toronto.
Kathleen says bedbugs have forced her to move 11 times in the past six years.

The 45-year-old doesn’t even want her last name used because she says she’s already lost one job over the tiny critters.

“I was a normal person, I had a job and a nice apartment and this has completely broken my life,” she said.

She claims she first picked them up in 2010 after volunteering at a community centre in Regent Park.

That marked the beginning of a “downward spiral.”

Kathleen says she lost her job because she “made the mistake” of coming clean with her employers.

“I literally walked away with nothing but my health card in some cases, just trying to completely rid myself of them, only to end up in other buildings that were also infested,” she explained.

Now she lives outside of Toronto and wants all three levels of government — and the scientific community — to recognize bedbugs are a “national crisis.”

That’s why she spent Friday with placards outside City Hall, demanding more action in the battle against bedbugs.

“I went through all the proper protocol,” Kathleen said. “This isn’t a landlord and tenant issue anymore.”

She even had a friend — a private landlord from St. Catharines — dress up like a brown bedbug called Badness the Bedbug, which attracted curious looks from passersby.

The city’s website says if a landlord refuses to help with bedbugs, the tenant can contact a legal clinic, the landlord and tenant board, or Toronto Public Health.

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