Bed Bugs Reported Anew at Hempfield Towers
Thursday, May 24, 2012
A mandatory inspection of all 202 apartments in Hempfield Towers
could be initiated as early as next week as Westmoreland County
Housing Authority officials work to stave off a reported growing
bedbug infestation at the low-income senior high-rise.
Executive Director Mike Washowich said four residents on Wednesday
reported that bedbugs were in their homes. In March, the authority
confirmed that as many as seven apartments were infested and needed
remediation for the nuisance insects.
"We're going to put together a plan to conduct a mandatory visual
inspection of every unit in the building," Washowich said.
During the March outbreak, the authority inspected just the
apartments suspected to have bedbugs. Those units were treated by
in-house authority workers and a professional exterminator.
But the bedbugs have returned.
Yesterday's reports of bedbugs need to be confirmed, something that
Washowich said will happen within the next several days. Still,
authorities are moving ahead with remediation.
Washowich said the authority will continue to work to rid the
high-rise of bedbugs, which he blamed on the transient nature of
the insect and not the conditions at the apartment building.
The authority will again bring in an outside exterminator and
change its eradication method.
"We are continuing to have an all-out assault on any unit reported
to have bedbugs. Bedbugs are a tough issue. There is a level of
infestation if we get just one unit. From our standpoint, we won't
step away from doing everything to rid ourselves of this disgusting
insect," Washowich said.
The proposed full-building inspection is a change in attitude for
the authority, which in March declined to inspect all apartments
saying that it would be obvious if the insects had moved to other
units based on reports from residents.
Bedbugs are small insects that feed on human blood and do not
spread disease, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Health.
Bedbug infestations occur when the insects move via furniture,
bedding, luggage or clothing. Bites on a person are usually
evidenced by itchy welts.
Heath Department spokesman Tom Hostetter said yesterday the state
does not track bedbug outbreaks.
"They are plenty disgusting, but at this point in time there is no
proof they cause any disease," Hostetter said.
Washowich said no other housing authority building has reported the
presence of bedbugs this year.