“Sleep tight and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” For many, it’s just a pithy bedtime rhyme, but it’s become all too real for families across Ohio.
National news this week was watching the latest outbreak in Ohio as exterminators report that bed bug infestations have reached “epidemic” proportions.
“They’re everywhere. Stores have them. Doctors offices have them. You can almost pick them up anywhere,” Pluck explained, saying they often attach to children’s backpacks and go home with them.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, bed bugs do not transmit disease, but scratching can cause skin infections and allergic reactions for some people, while incessant scratching can make it impossible for children to focus on their school work.
For many, the greatest concern is the enormous amount of work required to get rid of them in a potential home infestation—a process that involves fumigating the home and often discarding bedding, furniture, and sometimes favorite children’s toys.
One former landlord, who spoke with The Ohio Star, said the hardest part of dealing with an infestation was persuading a tenant who might not have the ability, sometimes due to a language barrier, to understand the importance of their role in getting the pests out.
According to research by Ali H. Alalawi published at Entomology, Ornithology & Herpetology in a 2014 study, scientists “suggested that the reason for this resurgence of bed bugs is the less use of pesticides and international immigration where foreign people carry bed bugs with them into the country.”
The study also mentions that bed bugs, which had been virtually eradicated in the U.S. by 1940, have developed resistance to some pesticides that had previously been effective.
As a result of the outbreak, some landlords are even being sued. In New Jersey, a group of Syrian refugees sued their landlord and the U.S. government for placing them in infested housing.
In September, Burmese refugees in Nebraska had to be removed from squalid housing where bed bugs were discovered.
And, north of the border, Syrian refugees are suing an Ontario landlord and the government for placing them in bed bug-infested housing, saying “we had no bed bugs in Syria.”
According to a top 50 list created by Orkin, Columbus and Cincinnati are number five and six respectively on a list of the 50 worst cities for bed bugs.
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Anna Marie Bolton is a reporter for The Ohio Star.