Bed bugs

Blood sucking house guests? Who needs 'm?
Download a flyer to use with tenants--see bottom of this page

Are bed bugs a public health problem?

     Centers for Disease Control says: "Although bed bugs are not known to transmit disease, they are a pest of significant public health importance. Bed bugs fit into a category of blood-sucking ectoparasites (external parasites) similar to head lice (Pediculus humanus capitis). Bed bugs, like head lice, feed on the blood of humans but are not believed to transmit disease. Other ectoparasites, such as body lice (Pediculus humanus corporis), are known to transmit several serious diseases. Differences in the biology of similar species of pests, such as body lice and head lice (or bed bugs) can greatly impact the ability of pests to transmit disease. Bed bugs cause a variety of negativephysical health, mental health and economic consequences. Many people have mild to severe allergic reaction to the bites with effects ranging from no reaction to a small bite mark to, in rare cases, anaphylaxis (severe, whole-body reaction) (2). These bites ...can also lead to secondary infections of the skin.
     Ohio Health Department seems like it agrees with the CDC, but instead of taking leadership for the problem of bed bugs in Ohio, the ODH hides behind the coat tails of the Local Health Departments (LHDs) in defining bed bugs as a public health problem. "One of the workgroup’s primary goals was to identify current state and local bed bug response efforts. As the problem has continued to increase, the question of ultimate responsibility continues to be raised. This section provides an overview of what the workgroup has learned. [ ] As Ohio is a home rule state, public health nuisances are addressed at the local level. ODH provides information and technical support to its local counterparts. The LHD response to bed bugs depends on whether bed bugs are considered a public health nuisance within a particular jurisdiction. Most LHDs do not consider bed bugs to be a public health concern because they are not known to transmit disease to humans. Another factor that varies among jurisdictions is the presence or absence of a nuisance abatement, housing or motel/hotel program. LHDs without these code enforcement programs have no capacity to respond to bed bug complaints." RHINO emphasis added. Source
     RHINO believes that both ODH and LHD's succumbed to the interests of landlords in failing to make a finding that bed bugs were a public health issue. Part of the evidence for this collusion comes from the report we just quoted. On the Bed Bug Force which created this position paper, "tenants" were represented by a property manager! Efforts in the Ohio Legislature to include bed bugs in the Ohio Revised Code as 'vermin' have not passed either house.

Bed Bugs don't carry disease...or do they?
One of the "blessings" of bed bugs is the often repeated mantra that bed bugs don't carry disease.  Well, maybe not so fast according to a new study.  Huffington Post reports on a new study that links bed bugs and Chagas disease.  "Levy emphasized that the research does not prove bed bugs are actually transmitting Chagas to humans. Other researchers underscored the same point. Richard Pollack, a public health entomologist and instructor at Harvard University, said the work is "compelling," but remains hesitant to call bed bugs a vector of the disease."
This is important because having proof that bed bugs transmit disease would make the critters a public health threat, making it easier for tenants to hold landlords accountable for extermination. 
read the article here 

more on bedbugs here
...and thanks to JoyceH for sharing

What can tenants do?
  • Ask your prospective landlord before you move in if there have been bed bugs in the property and if she/he has a bed bug policy. There's no requirement to disclose past or current infestations, but if she/he lies, you may have grounds to seek damages in case you become infested.

  • Confirm that you have bed bugs. 

  • Contact your landlord or apartment manager immediately in writing! Keep a copy!

  • If you live in a multifamily building, file a complaint with the appropriate agency. Include a FACT SHEET FOR LANDLORDS with your notice to correct the problem.

  • If you live in a multifamily building, encourage your landlord or your tenants organization to hold a meeting for tenants to learn how to prevent an outbreak and identify infestations.

  • Buy an entomologist certified bed bug encasement for your mattresses and springs to prevent bites until your unit is exterminated. More about encasements 

  • Wash all of your bedding and clothing in hot water and dry it in the dryer on the hottest setting for a minimum of 30 minutes AFTER IT IS COMPLETELY DRY.

  • Eliminate clutter from your home. Store things that you want to keep in tightly covered plastic totes.

  • Don't discard furnishings or belongings unless instructed by a pest control professional. If furnishings and belongings must be thrown out follow these steps:

  • Completely wrap n plastic any furniture that your pest control professional tells you that he/she cannot treat. Seal all of the seams with strong tape before you remove it from your home. Mark the discarded furnishings with signs that indicate they are a hazard. RHINO says; Once upon a time Dr. Susan Jones produced some "limited edition" stickers to use when labeling discarded furnishings. RHINO will check with Dr. Jones to see how to make these available to RHINO members.

  • Thoroughly vacuum the floor and baseboards in the rooms that have bed bugs. Vacuum often. After each vacuuming, sprinkle about half a cup of talcum powder or corn starch on the floor, then sweep it into the dust cup or sweeper bag. Empty the dust cup or remove the vacuum cleaner bag after you’ve finished. Put the bag or dust in a plastic trash bag. Seal it, and put it in an outdoor trash container!

  • Limit visitors to your home until the bed bugs are gone!

  • Use a product such as Benadryltm ointment on the bites to relieve the itching. If the over-the-counter product doesn’t relieve the Itching, please contact your doctor! Some victims can develop allergic reactions.

These things will make your bed bug problem worse:
  • Don't use over-the-counter chemicals! They will not kill the all of the bed bugs. They are a waste of money and may be dangerous to you.
  • Don't buy do -it-yourself products from your pest control provider. RHINO snagged a $16 pint bottle of vinegar and herbs (AKA salad dressing) from a licensed pest control provider in Cleveland.

  • Don't give or loan clothing, furniture, toys or other personal belongings to anyone while you have bed bugs!

  • Don't permit anyone (maintenance man or manager) to spray in your unit unless she/he is licensed by the Ohio Department of Agriculture. If they do, report them to Ohio Department of Agriculture. More info here

adapted from Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force 

What is Integrated Pest Management (IPM)?
EPA says: "IPM takes advantage of all appropriate pest management options, including the judicious use of pesticides. Although bed bugs may sometimes be controlled by non-chemical means alone, this approach is often very difficult, potentially less effective, and usually more resource intensive. Bed bug control is most effective when an IPM approach is implemented with diligent participation by the residents. In multi-family housing, diligent participation is also required of the building management." RHINO emphasis added. More here

    In practice this means that tenants are actively involved in prevention, surveillance, and treatment. If your "exterminator" is not doing education, monitoring, and evaluating...then she/he is not practicing IPM.
    IPM is recommended by HUD, USDA, and EPA in their guidance on the treatment of bed bugs.  IPM is safer for tenants because it uses less toxic "pesticides" less often. Remember that "pest"-icides sometimes don't know the difference between a pestand a customer.  More on pesticides in the home here:
More on IPM here
 What's News?

August 28, 2017 Bed bug report card for Ohio
Cleveland. com reports "It's happened again -- Cleveland was ranked at the top of a list of cities with bedbug infestations, and now everyone in Northeast Ohio feels itchy. The annual list by pest control company Terminix ranks Cleveland above Cincinnati and Detroit, which rank second and third. Cleveland was third in the rankings last year. Orkin, another major pest control company, also releases an annual list. Cleveland ranked 13 this year and 12 the year before, with other cities like Columbus and Cincinnati ranking higher."
related: Parma High School room to be treated for bedbugs 
     A comment: Why does Ohio have such bad luck with bed bugs? Could it be a lousy (pun intended) policy at the Ohio Health Department?

February 9, 2016 Scientists decode bed bug genome as pesticide resistance results in a resurgence. More than you really want to know. 

February 5, 2016 We Are One Step Closer to Destroying Bedbugs Forever City Lab says: "Go out and hug a scientist: They’ve sequenced our enemy’s genome."

February 2, 2016  Cincinnati Enquirer UC helps crack the genome of bed bugs
"Researchers at the University of Cincinnati leading a global consortium of scientists have made a major breakthrough in understanding one of humanity's nastiest little pests. They have decoded the genome of the bed bug, which could lead to new ways to combat the pest’s resurgence in Cincinnati and other major American cities. 'Having this resources opens up a lot of potential new rounds of research in dealing with bed bugs,' said Joshua Benoit, assistant professor in UC’s Department of Biological Sciences. 'In a year or two, we might actually develop better ways to control bed bugs.' The International Bed Bug Genome Project Collaboration has been studying the bed bug genome for about 18 months, Benoit said, focusing on several features of bed bugs but especially what makes the bed bug pesticide-resistant. Benoit said analyzing the genome creates a wealth of new research opportunities.February 3, 2016

 January 30, 2016 Bed bugs aren't gone 
The Guardian is reporting on a new study that shows that bed bugs are gaining resistance to a key chemical control. "Bed bugs have developed a resistance to neonicotinoids, a group of the most widely used insecticides, according to a new study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology. Products developed over the past few years to control bed bugs combine neonicotinoids, or neonics, with pyrethroids, another class of insecticide." 
News of emerging reisisance could mean that more repeat visits will be necessary guessed...tenants could getting charged for follow up extermination treatments. Lets all watch out for landlords trying to charge for 2nd visits and challenge them at every opportunity. 
    Look out Ohio. "The bed bugs collected from Cincinnati and Michigan proved to be tougher, with a much higher resistance to neonics than the Harlan and Jersey City bed bugs. Compared with Harlan’s bed bugs, the Michigan creatures were 462 times more resistant to imidacloprid, 198 times more resistant to dinotefuran, 546 times more resistant to thiamethoxam and 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid. Similarly, the Cincinnati bed bugs were 163 times more resistant to imidacloprid, 358 times more resistant to dinotefuran, 226 times more resistant to thiamethoxam and 33,333 times more resistant to acetamiprid.   
More on bed bug immunity              

Bedbugs still an issue in Central Ohio
Columbus Dispatch reports: “From our perspective, it continues to be a problem,” said Mitzi Kline, spokeswoman for Franklin County Public Health. Kline said the agency tracks reported landlord-tenant disputes over bedbugs but doesn’t have a tally on overall infestations. The city of Columbus, meanwhile, receives some bedbug complaints through its code-enforcement division. Scores of others go directly to exterminating companies. The city was No. 3 on the latest list from Orkin, which ranks U.S. metro areas by the number of bedbug treatments the company performs there. “It does still seem to be a growing problem that, unfortunately, some people have gotten used to,” said Terri O’Connor, a supervisor with the Central Ohio Area Agency on Aging. She and Jones lamented the fact that low- and middle-income families can’t get assistance to pay for extermination, which can cost $1,000 or more. And social-service agencies are not equipped to perform the often-extensive prep work that needs to be done to ensure treatment success. “We’re still in the same situation where there are no public monies,” Jones said. “People who have bedbugs are a voiceless population. They don’t know who to turn to, where to turn, and they don’t get consistent answers.”

Bedbug info in Federally assisted housing

HUD Guidance for Insured and assisted multifamily housing 2012-05

HUD Guidance for Public and Indian Housing 2012-17


Publicand Indian Housing Guidance on Integrated Pest Management 2011-22  

Spencer Wells,
Apr 4, 2015, 3:58 AM