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Bedbugs are Back

janiecakes

TRIBE Member
SO FREAKIN GROSS.

From today's Toronto Star:

Pesky bed bugs spark public warning
Now plaguing local shelters; private homes could be next
Resurgence in the medieval bugs a worldwide phenomenon



KAREN PALMER
PUBLIC HEALTH REPORTER

A pest of the past is staging a massive comeback in some of the city's shelters and hostels. And despite warm wishes to sleep tight, these bed bugs are biting.

"They're all over the place," said Beric German, a health promotion worker with Street Health, a homeless outreach agency.

"They're in rooming houses, they're in apartments, they're in shelters.

"People don't know how to get rid of them."

Experts agree it's only a matter of time until the biting bugs, which are irritating, pervasive and virtually indestructible, spread into the general population.

"As the source populations grow, the rate of spread will inevitably increase and bed bugs will start to appear in hotels, apartments, theatres, restaurants, public transit, hospitals and eventually detached single family homes," warns a bulletin issued yesterday by the University of Toronto's Centre for Urban and Community Studies.

There are no official statistics about the number of bed bugs scurrying around the city, or even the number of places affected, but evidence suggests that the bugs plague at least a dozen homeless shelters and hostels, as well as non-profit housing units and women's shelters.

"People can't wash, they can't get a proper shower and they can't wash their clothes," German said.

"People begin to carry the bed bugs with them."

"This is just a broad thing that we're seeing," said entomologist Tim Myles, who co-authored the U of T bulletin.

"This is not unique to Toronto. This is a worldwide phenomenon."

In fact, according to a report in the Chicago Tribune, at least 28 U.S. states have reported an infestation of these medieval bugs. Britain has also seen a resurgence in the blood-eating bugs.

"Every big city in the world has this problem," Myles said.

Hungry bed bugs are tiny, measuring about half a centimetre, translucent and virtually flat. They're superb at hiding in cracks and crevices, emerging only at night to latch on to skin, then bite and feed.

After a blood feeding, they turn dark brown and can balloon to twice their normal size.

Their bites can cause anything from slightly itchy red bumps to irritated welts with swelling and even scabbing.

"Very fortunately, they don't transmit diseases," Myles said. However, he noted that the bugs may play a "minor role" in the transmission of hepatitis B.

"They're still very, very serious nuisance pests," he said.

Bed bugs were virtually eradicated with the advent of chemical pesticides, such as DDT, in the 1940s.

But once pest control companies switched from spraying general pesticides to setting gel-baits to kill cockroaches in the early 1990s, bed bugs had a golden opportunity to go forth and procreate.

"In solving the cockroach problem, we accidentally created a new problem," Myles said.

Street nurses in Toronto first began hearing about the bed bug scourge a year ago, when homeless people turned up at community health centres covered in angry red wounds.

"It's very, very bad, because it's spread really quickly through the shelter system," said street nurse Cathy Crowe.

"It's really causing a lot of problems."

With shelters already grappling with a micro-epidemic of tuberculosis, a highly infectious respiratory illness, Crowe said many homeless people would rather sleep outside in the cold than risk their health at a shelter.

"Those two things are pretty scary for people," she said.

"You can't protect yourself from either. Word spreads and when you've got a shelter that's been spraying, people hear about it."

Already, doctors have diagnosed a few homeless men bitten by bed bugs with cellulitis, a painful bacterial infection that spreads under the skin.

"(Bed bugs) are frightening for people, because once they get a hold on people, they're hard to get rid of," German said.

Meetings with hostel and shelter workers were held yesterday and will continue today to share information about dealing with the problem, said Maura Lawless, manager of the city's operations and support services.

Some places are spraying; others are wrapping mattresses in plastic.

Street health workers say the homeless need better access to washers and dryers, since the high heat of a dryer will kill the pesky bugs.

"There are a few organizations that have been on top of it the last few years, but it's a real uphill battle," Crowe said.

Myles has conducted a few experiments with adhesive tape and glue traps at eight local rooming house rooms, and found that the sticky surface of carpet tape is the best at trapping errant bugs.

They peeled as many as 14 bugs from the tape left in one room alone.

"How to deal with this and how to deal with it in a modern way needs to be developed," Myles said.

Although bed bugs could easily be dismissed as nothing more than a nuisance, health workers say they're a sign of things to come: an infestation means lice can't be far behind, and those parasites carry typhus, trench fever and other epidemic diseases.

"These are major public health concerns," Myles said.
 

The Kid

TRIBE Member
Meh... read this on the Metro this morning, I wash my sheets once in a while, not too worried about it.
 
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janiecakes

TRIBE Member
They don't just live in your sheets. They live in the carpet and in the closet and stuff too, and then they get in bed with you and chow down.
 

Booty Bits

TRIBE Member
this summer, i was sleeping on a boat in northern vietnam, and right before i went to my cabin, this other traveller told me the story of his friend who had taken a similar boat trip and got bitten to shit by bedbugs.
it was one of my most restless sleeping nights.
theres just something about the mere idea of bedbugs that makes me hypersensitive to every little breeze or anything brushing against my ankles.
 
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SENSEi

TRIBE Promoter
My friend brought them back with him from a hostel in Europe.

They were hard to get rid of.
They were congregating on his headboard.

Nasty stuff.
 

janiecakes

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by Vote Quimby
A new generation of kids to be terrorized with the "Good night, don't let the bed bugs bite" from the parents.
and if they do
take a shoe
and beat them
til they're black and blue
 
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janiecakes

TRIBE Member
it's true, it was shameless.

i'm just freaking out about these things and am feeling the need to share my pain.
 

janiecakes

TRIBE Member
ohmygod it's soooooooooooo good

that will be my solution to distracting myself from the plague of bedbugs about to descend on Toronto!
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by janiecakes
ohmygod it's soooooooooooo good

that will be my solution to distracting myself from the plague of bedbugs about to descend on Toronto!
When you're finished with that, you should give WindWaker a go. It was awesome as well.
 
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janiecakes

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by silver1
When you're finished with that, you should give WindWaker a go. It was awesome as well.
Ocarina is my favourite, I've tried WindWaker and didn't like it quite as much but it's still fabulous.
 

silver1

TRIBE Member
Originally posted by janiecakes
Ocarina is my favourite, I've tried WindWaker and didn't like it quite as much but it's still fabulous.
If you're a big Ocarina fan, it is a must to play and finish WindWaker.

I don't want to spoil the WW story so I'll just say it's a must to play.
 
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