Don’t let the bed bugs bite

If you are a case manager, social worker, or other service provider in Cincinnati you probably have some experience with clients who have bed bugs.

Cincinnati and Toronto, believe it or not, are gaining world-wide recognition for aggressively combating bed bug epidemics which appear to be equally effecting a number of American cities, including Boston and New York.

WLWT (local television channel 5) reported in December 2008 that the city of Cincinnati has gained world wide news coverage for its bed bug problem.  They report that local experts from the Cincinnati Health Department are defending our city’s reputation, saying Cincinnati isn’t really any worse off with bed bugs than other major cities, like Boston or New York.  They report that Cincinnati is just getting more world-wide attention, because we are one of the only cities actually acknowledging that the situation exists, speaking openly about it, and vocally trying to education our public about it.

The Cincinnati Health Department has released a brochure on how to get rid of bed bugs.  This is a great resource, its the first one I’ve seen that DOESN’T say you have to throw out every thing you own.

The Strategic plan formulated in June of 2008 can be found here.   Some parts of it are pretty interesting reading.  If you have any experiencing dealing first hand with this problem, as many case managers do, I’d recommend reading the report and contacting the Cincinnati Health Department with any criticisms (or accolades) you may have.  They probably would be appreciative of any constructive criticism from individuals working in the field.

The following was excerpted from an article appearing in the blog, a platform for a bed-bug-policy advocacy group in New York City:

What happens when a resident asks for help with a bed bug problem? According to the Joint Bed Bug Task Force Strategic Plan, bed bug complaints received by Hamilton County Public Health are entered into the Cincinnati Area Geographic Information System (CAGIS). A field sanitarian is then assigned to each complaint and conducts an inspection within 5 business days. If an infestation is found, a violation is written and the sanitarian follows-up with all parties (landlord, tenant and pest management professional) within 14 days to check on the progress of the case.

The following flow chart (see page 22 of the Strategic Plan) describes the complaint response process:

Bed Bug Complaint Response Flow Chart

Hessel explains that they have received guidance on inspection protocols. “Through this process of formulating guidelines, we learned from [Ohio State University entomologist] Susan Jones that ‘if you see one bug, that’s all you need.'”

The Strategic Plan recommends leaving the full, likely-two-hour inspections to the professionals.

If signs of bed bugs are found at the field evaluation, instructions are given to the owner and to the tenants about their responsibilities. Hessel says he asks the landlord to hire a pest control operator “tomorrow or the next day.”

“We follow up with the landlord to make sure that process has been done or that process has been initiated, and then we’ll have the tenants follow up with us on how the situation is going. We might do some follow-up field visits, upon request.”

I ask our favorite question, what about inspections of adjoining apartments?

“We usually recommend that they do that. It’s not mandatory, but it’s highly recommended because of the nature of the bed bugs, and how they maneuver through the walls and electric piping. So most of the applicators that we have encountered do that already. They go in and inspect upstairs, sides and below. It’s all about good pest management.”

Media Sources:

More bedbugs are biting in Cincinnati (LA Times, January 4, 2009)

City Cuts Funding to Bedbug Inspection Program (MSNBC, January 8, 2009)

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