New York’s Bed Bug Epidemic

The bedbug epidemic has hit many big cities in the U.S., such as Los Angeles, Denver, Cincinnati, and Phoenix, but nowhere near as hard as New York has been pummeled by these tiny pests. Complaints about bedbugs in New York City have skyrocketed in the last few years. The number of inquiries about bedbugs to 311 escalated from 21,922 in 2008 to 33,772 in 2009, an increase of 54%. In 2004 there were only 537 bedbug complaints; in 2009 that number jumped over twenty times that amount to a staggering 10,985 complaints, according to the New York City Bed Bug Advisory Board Report to the Mayor and City Council from April 2010.

Where Bedbugs Have Been Found

Not only have bedbugs made homes in numerous hotels and homes, they are also showing up in public buildings as well. The AMC movie theater in Times Square was recently discovered to have bedbugs in a few of their seats, the bodies of moviegoers a good target for these blood suckers. Victoria’s Secret in Lexington, Elle Magazine offices, an Abercrombie and Fitch store, the Brooklyn district attorney’s office, and many other businesses were also found to have bedbugs. Most disturbingly, there were 426 bedbug cases of bedbugs in 243 public schools in New York City in 2009 alone. Bedbugs are very easy to be transported around the city; all it takes is one person with bedbugs on their clothes, and their work place or shopping place can become infected.

New Yorker’s Reactions

It seems that no one in New York City is immune to these pests. According to a New York City community health survey from 2009, 1 in 15 residents of New York City have bedbugs in their homes. It is estimated that since these pests travel so well that that number is higher now. With the rising number of bedbug cases there has been a corresponding rise in fear of these pests being transmitted. Friends keep their distance, people have stopped going to the movies, and some cross the street when they see mattresses lying in the street. Tutors and music teachers that go home to home are worried that they may soon be losing their clients because of this epidemic. Those who homes have been infested have to live with the stigmata of it. The shame and fear of what other people might think and how they will react has even made some wear turtle neck sweaters in the stifling heart of summer to hide the telltale red welts.

The War on Bed Bugs

The main reason that these bugs are running rampant across the county is because the US has largely banded the use of DDT, a pesticide that, when it was used back in the 1940’s and 1950’s, stopped bedbugs in their tracks. New York has now declared battle in other ways, by sealing cracks and getting rid of clutter in which bed bugs may hide, inspecting mattresses and pillows for signs of bedbugs, and, if necessary, recruiting professional exterminators. There is now a New York City Bedbug Advisory Board report with a three part recommendation for the management of bedbugs, including education, awareness and early detection, treatment and remediation, and monitoring and policy. The New York City Bedbug Advisory Board Report to the Mayor and City Council is available online for the public.

For more information, the city has setup a website ( here ) where you can learn more about how to combat the bedbug problem.

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