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Sunday, 29 November -0001 19:03

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite

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SARATOGA SPRINGS - A Stonequist Apartment resident claims the Saratoga Springs Housing Authority site is infested with bed bugs and that nothing is being done about it.


The Saratoga Springs Housing Authority (SSHA) is a federally funded organization that is overseen by an executive director and a seven-member board of commissioners, five of whom are appointed by the mayor and two who are residents of the housing authority. Aside from a recent visit by a code enforcement officer, little has been done to alleviate the residents’ discomfort.


The reason for the delay in action? Local news reports point to a jurisdictional breakdown. Saratoga Springs City Mayor Scott Johnson said he was aware of a possible bug problem, but not who was responsible for resolving it.


In a joint statement on bed bug control in the United States from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the chain of responsibility becomes even more unclear:


“An integrated approach to bed bug control involving federal, state, tribal and local public health professionals, together with pest management professionals, housing authorities and private citizens, will promote development and understanding of the best methods for managing and controlling bed bugs and preventing future infestations.”


With so many individuals involved, it’s hard to know where to begin.


Until federal, state and local policy catches up with the problem, it is important to take measures to protect yourself.


The CDC and EPA suggest public education as being a “critical effective strategy for reducing public health issues associated with the resurgence of bed bug
populations.”


It is time for community members to disregard preconceived notions and use the only truly successful tool left against the spread of bed bugs: knowledge.


Keeping your home free of bed bugs is not an easy task, but knowing that potential infestation is a possibility for anyone- regardless of income level, social status or cleanliness- is critical to the prevention of bed bug infestation.


 Take Preventative Action
-Maintain a Meticulous Household: change linens frequently, check pets for unwanted tagalongs, avoid wearing clothing in bed that has been outdoors.


-Be a Bed Bug Conscious Traveler: check hotel linens for signs of bed bugs (usually small flecks of brown and red) and mattress seams for unwanted inhabitants. Bed bugs tend to stay around the seams of the mattress and their flat, very small bodies can be easily missed, even by the most dedicated maid.


-Think of Your Home as A Quarantine Zone: when returning home from a vacation, overnight stay at another person’s home, or a new place where you came in extended contact with any permeable fabric, wash and dry your clothes immediately. Bed bugs attach themselves to personal items and can be carried from an infested hotel right into your bedroom. Solid objects too large for the dryer, like suitcases, should be inspected thoroughly, and, if there is any doubt, subjected to high amounts of heat. Bed bugs can not withstand high temperatures and this is one of the most effective ways to eliminate them.


If you are unlucky enough to already be one of the many people suffering with an infestation of bed bugs, don’t worry, there are things you can do.


-Call a Professional: first, you will want to notify someone of the situation. If you live in an apartment, dorm or other group-living setting, this is especially important as early detection can prevent further spread of the infestation.


-Prepare Your Home: even though your house is going to be subjected to any number of professional eradication treatments, it is your responsibility to prepare your home. Wash all linens and fabric items and then dry them for a few hours. The longer you dry items, the better. Once these items have been ridded of bed bugs they should be placed into garbage bags so that re-infestation does not occur before the professional can arrive.


-Cover Your Mattress: your mattress is the central hub for bed bug activity and it needs to be neutralized as soon as possible. It is important that you don’t throw it, or any other clothing or furniture item away. Infested items can be salvaged and throwing them away increases the likelihood that infestation will spread. Purchase a plastic, zip-up mattress cover for both your box spring and your mattress. The bed bugs can not get through this barrier and will die off after a year or so with no food source.


-Follow Directions: ridding your home of bed bugs can be a costly, lengthy process, but following the instructions of a professional can save money and time. Complete the entire process thoroughly so that repeat treatments will not be
necessary.


For more information on bed bugs, visit the New York State Department of Health’s website www.health.ny.gov.

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