Brookside Battles Bed Bugs
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
For nearly a year, the property manager of the Brookside
Apartments has been in a battle against bedbugs - similar to much
of the country.
After becoming the manager last year at the 77-unit apartment
complex, located at 1602 Brookside Drive, Sidney Jimenez said
battling bedbugs has been a recurring theme. Pest inspectors
confirmed five units with bedbugs within the past month, with a few
units pending inspections, or re-inspections, this week.
"Like a lot of apartments in the area, we have had some degree
of bedbugs," he said. "We have been very diligent in addressing the
issue. But our issue for the year has been the breakdown of
communication between tenants to management about the problem."
Bedbugs feed on human blood, and are nocturnal insects that
typically hide in cracks and crevices during the daytime. According
to the National Pest Management Association, one in five Americans
has had a bedbug infestation in their home or knows someone who has
encountered bedbugs at home or in a hotel.
Bedbug infestations have increased more than 500 percent in the
last few years on a nationwide level, from single-family homes to
college dormitories and apartment complexes, according to the
"We have definitely tried to attack this from every angle," Mr.
Jimenez said, adding that pest control inspectors visit the
apartment complex at least once a month for routine inspections.
"Last year we had about 12 confirmed cases in the south building,
and we've hired two people as needed to help people get ready for
Of the two buildings in the complex, the problem has remained in
the south building. Last spring, the complex treated 24 units,
including hallways and the laundry room. Brookside Apartments are
located just north of Vatterott College.
"If you have bedbugs, you will see little marks, like sharpie
marks, near seams of the mattress. They are brought in from other
places and attach to clothing, laundry or luggage," said Thomas
Beavers, environmentalist public health specialist with the City of
St. Joseph Health Department. "I get calls on a daily basis asking
about bedbugs, but it's more on an informative level, wanting to
know how to spot them."
Mr. Beavers said while there is no state law mandating the city
health department to check for bedbugs in private residences, a
local pest control company can confirm and extinguish bedbugs. Mr.
Jimenez estimated a cost of $350 per inspection, plus an additional
$6,000 assisting tenants in moving and other issues.
"(Bedbugs) are not a health risk; they do not carry diseases and
their bites aren't toxic," Mr. Beavers said. "They are just a
If a unit has confirmed bedbugs, residents must get a
professional exterminator for the best success, Mr. Beavers
"From this point on, if you have a confirmed (case) of bedbugs
by the pest inspector, you have a week to be prepared and ready,"
Mr. Jimenez said. "If you're not ready, I'm going to evict you.
It's just that simple."
Mr. Jimenez said although landlords or property managers are not
required to pay for bedbug extermination, the health and safety of
Brookside Apartment tenants are his largest concern. Despite the
cost out of his own pocket, he vowed to end this battle.
"We are real aggressive as we have approached this. We're
spending a lot of money and a lot of time combating this issue," he
said. "If tenants let us know what's going on, we can stop this
before it gets too big."