Last updated: January 23. 2014 6:54PM - 420 Views
By Heather Meade hmeade@civitasmedia.com

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DARKE COUNTY - The Darke County Health Department reported that they’ve been averaging only about two phone calls per month in regards to bed bug concerns, which is declining from previous months, said Roberta Mangen, environmental services.

However, Nancy Raffel, infection prevention at Wayne HealthCare, said it’s “unfortunately, fairly regular” to see patients come in with signs of bed bugs.

“We try to identify the situation as soon as possible,” Raffel commented. “If the patient mentions that they have bed bugs, we immediately take them to a room, have them remove and bag their clothing and personal items, and provide them with scrubs…When they’re released, their room is thoroughly cleaned and sprayed, and closed up to decontaminate.”

According to a report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and United States Environmental Protection Agency, the bed bug population dropped mid-20th century, but “the United States is one of many countries new experiencing an alarming resurgence in the population of bed bugs.”

With the resurgence, the public seems to be getting more informed on what they can do to prevent these often pesticide-resistant nuisances; some of the reasons for the growing number of bed bugs could include resistance to many pesticides, more international and domestic travel, lack of knowledge due to prolonged absence, and the continuing decline or elimination of effective pest control programs at state and local health agencies.

“The only good thing about bed bugs is that they don’t transmit disease,” Raffel added. “They’re a big pest, they’re a nuisance…and it doesn’t take much to get them.”

Bed bugs, much the same as head lice, feed on human blood, though they’re not known to transmit disease according to the CDC. That said, they can cause many negative consequences, affecting physical and mental health and finances. In rare cases, those bitten could have an allergic reaction severe enough to cause anaphylaxis; bites can also lead to secondary infection if not properly cleaned, including impetigo, ecthyma, and lymphanigitis, the CDC said. Those living in infected homes may also experience anxiety, depression and insomnia.

According to the CDC, more research is needed to determine why bed bugs have made a return, and the potential of bed bugs spreading disease. Bed bugs also create a financial burden, with costs for health care, extermination, lost wages and revenue, lower productivity, it can be overwhelming to be in that situation, the CDC reported.

The cost of effectively removing bed bugs is more than other pests because repeated visits are typically necessary, the CDC report indicated. It’s also easier to remove bed bugs from single family homes than from apartment buildings, which Eric Brown, property manager for Leis Realty, confirmed.

“People are ashamed – bed bugs have gotten a black eye, but they are very easy to pick up,” Brown commented. “We tell our tenants to be upfront with us if this problem occurs, because if it happens, we’re going to fix the problem and prevent it from happening again. The last thing I want is someone to panic, move out and take the bugs to another place, perpetuating the problem.”

According to Brown, it’s the health department’s determination whether a landlord or tenant is responsible for exterminating the pests, but he’s noticed that they typically find that tenants of single-family homes are the responsible party, whereas if multiple tenants in an apartment complex find themselves with bed bugs, it’s often the responsibility of the landlord or property manager, because, according to the CDC, bed bugs can easily travel between units through voids in the wall.

“Everybody is embarrassed about it and they shouldn’t be. People not being educated about how they’re getting them, how they’re spread – that’s perpetuating the problem,” said Brian Magee of Eco-Therm, an eco-friendly bed bug elimination company located near Bradford. “They affect everyone, rich, poor, it doesn’t matter…”

According to Magee, Darke County is averaging close to the same ratio of calls as other locations, based on population; he said he gets about 15 calls per month from Greenville and Darke County, though he said he usually gets the “really bad” cases with heavy infestation, because that’s the company’s specialty.

Those who feel they may have an issue with bed bugs should move quickly to eliminate the problem, said Magee, because once the bed bugs begin to spread, they do so quickly. There are many methods of exterminating bed bugs, but Eco-Therm uses a chemical-free, heat-based method, which Eric Brown from Leis Realty said eliminates virtually all of the bed bug problem the first pass, though that would depend on the severity of the situation.

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