DC Department of Health (DC DOH) held a second summit on bed bugs on January 13th. The event, titled: “Bed Bugs Are Changing Our World,” was held at the old city council location (441 4th Street, NW, Room 1107). The purpose of the summit was to discuss the District’s latest campaign effors to end bed bugs in the city. Also, there was an opportunity for agencies and individuals to get together and share new information and ideas about curbing the problem.
There was so much interest in the event that DC DOH had to move the event to a location that could house everyone comfortably. Originally, the event was going to house one hundred people; the Fourth Street location can accommodate twice as many.
This event was needed because numerous businesses and events lost revenue last year because of the bed bugs’ resurgence. The District is not immune to this rebirth. Department stores, college dorms, hotels, tourist resorts, and even taxi cabs have had outbreaks within the last year.
“This is a multi-level and multi-agency problem,” said Jacob Dower, an attendee. “This gives us a chance to talk and come up with solutions.” Dower, a returning citizen, did four years in prison in the ’90s.
“When I was in prison,” Dower said, “we had bed bugs. You just had to deal with it. Eventually, they did something about it. You lost your mat, and sheets and everything. Sometimes you even lost your clothes, and they didn’t even replace them.”
Opening remarks were given by the DC DOH senior deputy director. Featured speakers were Harold J. Harlan, PhD, BCE; Johanna Shreve, chief tenant advocate, DC Office of the Tenant Advocate; Baldwin Williams, entomologist with the District Department of the Environment; and Eddie Connor of Connor’s Pest Protection.
Keynote speaker and entomologist Larry Pinto, who boasts over 25 years of pest control experience, is an avid technical writer and publisher of pest control materials including Techletter for Pest Control Technicians and The Bed Bug Handbook.
Out of 50 cities around the United States with bed bug outbreaks, Cincinnati, Ohio is ranked No. 1.
Bed bugs are large enough to see with the naked eye, but they hide in the cracks of floors, walls and furniture before finding their way to a mattress. The body heat people generate while asleep draws the bed bugs to them, and that leads to bites and rashes.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) advises:
* Remove clutter where bed bugs can hide.
* Seal cracks and crevices.
* Vacuum rugs and upholstered furniture thoroughly and frequently, as well as vacuuming under beds (take the vacuum bag outside immediately, and dispose in a sealed trash bag).
* Wash and dry clothing and bed sheets at high temperatures.
* Be alert, and monitor areas for bed bugs so they can be treated before a major infestation occurs.
* Before using any pesticide product, read the label first and follow the directions.
* Check the product label to make sure it is identified for use on bed bugs. If bed bugs are not listed on the label, the pesticide has not been tested for bed bugs and it may not be effective.
Dower said he learned the best way to keep down bed bug numbers is to keep your bedroom relatively clutter free. “Whenever I travel, I need to remember to not be puttin’ my suitcases and bags on a bed. When I get home, I need to clean and clean and vacuum every couple of weeks, change my sheets and stuff on the regular, and not to make up my bed automatically. I need to look and check for bed bugs first.”
A recent survey discovered 40% of all bed bug infestations occur inside businesses.
The EPA is working as part of a broad coalition of bed bug controllers which includes Department of Housing and Urban Development, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, Department of Commerce, and National Institutes of Health.
On February 1 and 2, 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency will host the National Bed Bug Summit in Washington, D.C. This summit, much like the DC DOH event, will cover recent bed bug research, what the government is doing, and new tecnologies covering the issue.