Thursday, October 4, 2007

Bed bugs push resident to sleep outside

About bed bugs
Bed bugs are wing-less, red-brown, oval-shaped insects that feed off the blood of humans. They are seven millimetres long and live from four to 12 months. A female can lay between 200 and 400 pinhead-sized eggs during its lifetime. The eggs hatch in 10 days. They feed at night and by day live in cracks and crevasses of furniture. There is no evidence that they carry disease harmful to humans. Their itchy bites resemble those of mosquitos or fleas.
Source: Windsor-Essex County Health Unit

Bed bugs push resident to sleep outside

Doug Williamson, The Windsor Star
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2007

For three weeks John Fontaine has been sleeping on his balcony but not because it's warm inside.

Fontaine's apartment at 920 Ouellette Ave. is infested with bed bugs, as are other apartments in the building owned by the Windsor-Essex County Housing Corporation.

"They've spread through the building," the 62-year-old cab driver said Wednesday. "I've been sleeping on my balcony - I've been bitten enough."

Kari Schofield, communications officer for the housing corporation, said Fontaine's apartment would have been sprayed immediately had they known he was sleeping on the balcony.

"If we heard somebody was sleeping on a balcony for three weeks we would definitely be there," Schofield said. "I'm sorry to hear that."

Fontaine said the problem surfaced several months ago when management posted a noticed advising tenants to stay out of the disposal room where refuse and old furniture is put handled. He said he started noticing the odd insect in his apartment six weeks ago, but didn't realize they were bed bugs until Labour Day weekend when he spoke to someone who told him they were in the building.

"That's when I put two and two together," Fontaine said. Besides himself, his eight-year-old daughter has also been bitten when she spends time with him, he said.

He said spraying has begun in the building, and his eighth-floor apartment is on the list. He also said he informed housing corporation staff of the bed bug problem the day after Labour Day, and on Sept. 13 he was notified his apartment was on the spray list.

"This is serious, man."

Bed bugs are a problem in several city apartment buildings, said Deb Bennett, director of health protection for the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit.

"We haven't seen it decrease for the last little while," she said, adding the health unit does not consider the local infestation to be an outbreak.

"Once they are established it's very difficult to remediate that."

Schofield said a presentation was made to tenants several weeks ago on bed bugs and cockroaches, but said it is a very difficult problem to get rid of. If a unit is sprayed and clean and someone with bed bugs walks into it, the problem re-occurs, she said. The corporation's Glengarry units are also experiencing the problem, which is compounded by the fact some tenants are old, disabled or have mental health issues and may not be able to keep their units clean enough, or prepare them properly for complete spraying.

"I can totally understand how these tenants are getting frustrated," Schofield said, adding that a task force has been formed to deal with the issue of infestation.

Fontaine said he works long days and was not aware that any such educational sessions were offered.

Besides spraying, Bennett said, people must wash bedding and thoroughly vacuum crevasses in furniture and mattresses where the blood-sucking bed bugs like to hide out. Although more of a nuisance than anything else, their itchy bites can result in infection if the skin is broken during scratching, she said.

"When you have a lot of people, everybody has to practice that ... or the problem does not go away."

Fontaine said he keeps his apartment clean and is waiting for the spraying to take place. He thinks he may be able to salvage his mattress but doesn't know about the box spring.

And in the meantime, he said: "I'll be on the balcony again." or 519-255-5777, ext. 699

Source : The Windsor Star

No comments: