Bed Bugs On The Rise In Tippecanoe County (West Lafayette, IN)
Friday, January 6, 2012

WEST LAFAYETTE, IN - "Sleep tight and don't let the bedbugs bite" is no laughing matter for Jacob Robinson. 

The pest bothered Jacob Robinson and his three roommates at their apartment for four months before they realized what the problem was.   

Robinson showed NewsChannel 18 small red bumps left behind by the pests. 

Robinson and his roommates started noticing little bites when they moved into their McCormick Place apartment in August.  They blame this couch furnished by their apartment which has been since thrown away.  They finally figured out bedbugs were the cause of their trouble on December 25. 

"We actually found bedbugs on Christmas," said Robinson.  "It was the first time we saw them.  Talk about ruining the Christmas night!" 

Other roommates moved out, leaving only Robinson. 

Pest control hired by McCormick Place sprayed the place down last week. 

A search of the apartment Thursday found two dead bedbugs in a different couch owned by a roommate.  Robinson said they have found bedbugs on beds and the walls. 

"It makes you paranoid," said Robinson.  "I'm always itching.  I'm always thinking something is crawling on me.  I take a lot of showers." 

McCormick Place spokesperson Kurt Jacobson said in a telephone interview the management acted as soon as they found out about the issue. 

"We want to be notified immediately," said Jacobson.  "We will take care of it immediately and remediate the problem which we did in this case." 

Jacobson said an inspection of neighboring units found no bedbugs. 

"We know for all the residents like this, it's something that's uncomfortable and that's why we want to take care of it right away," Jacobson said. 

Although Robinson said he wants to move and be let out of his lease, the terms of the document he signed don't allow for that. 

McCormick Place has scheduled two additional treatments of the apartment to kill any remaining pests. 

But what if your landlord is not responsive? 

There are few legal options for health officials. 

"Right now, there's no ordinance or state laws against that, that I can use against bedbugs," said Jake Rowland, Environmental Health Specialist with the Tippecanoe County Health Department. 

Unlike a pest like cockroaches or rats, Rowland said bedbugs are not a public health hazard because they are not known to carry any diseases.  If there is an infestation of a pest that is a public health hazard, health officials have more legal options. 

Rowland said the Tippecanoe County Health Department gets about 20 calls a year from people with bedbugs, mostly during move-ins in the fall. 

It's something a few years ago that would have been unheard of. 

"It's here and it's going to be hard to get rid of," Rowland said. 

That's not a comforting thought for Robinson.  The treatments from pest control must be done several weeks apart to insure that all unwanted guests and their eggs are dead. 

Rowland said bedbugs have been in county hotels and apartments and they don't care if it's a high-priced unit or a cheap motel. 

He said if you're sleeping in a strange room, it's always a good idea to check the cracks and crevices around mattresses where bedbugs like to hide.

Bedbugs on the rise in Tippecanoe County: