Clark Arms Residents Dealing with Bed Bugs

NewsAndTribune.com
Thursday, May 3, 2012

JEFFERSONVILLE - Some residents at Clark Arms are having to move belongings out of their apartments as a bed bug infestation has taken root.

Jenny Eldridge, who's mother-in-law lives at Clark Arms - a public housing complex for elderly and disabled residents - said she and family members spent several days last week clearing out closets full of coats, clothes, pictures, Christmas decorations and other items.

Bags of clothes had to be sealed, taken to a laundry facility, and washed in hot water to kill the bugs.

"This has been a nightmare," Eldridge said, noting that she's worried about other residents who don't have family to help them move things out. "Some of them are sick and disabled and don't have people that can help them."

Her mother-in-law's place was sprayed Monday and she's back in the apartment now. However, Eldridge is still upset because a couch from the apartment might have to be tossed out in order to get rid of the bugs completely.

Louisville-based OPC is treating the infestation and their staff told her the couch might have to go.  OPC President Donnie Blake said he understands how hard the request is but said it might be necessary in order to treat the apartment.

"Bed bugs are tough," Blake said. "Trying to do these treatments are extremely invasive. It's no fun whatsoever."

In some cases, Blake said, the value of the furniture may not match up with the cost of treatment. Eldridge wants the authority to hire someone who will treat the used furniture.

Further, she doesn't like that OPC is going apartment to apartment to treat the bugs rather than treating the entire floor. Blake said treating only the infested units and adjacent units is the company's standard practice.

There are 101 units in Clark Arms and seven of them are under treatment for bed bugs, said Housing Authority Executive Director Phillip Bates. The housing authority is paying for the treatments and Bates said OPC's methods have been successful at eradicating the bed bugs when they've worked at other authority properties.

Further, he said authority staff tries to educate residents on how to avoid bringing the mites into their homes. Avoiding used furniture purchases is one such tip they give.

Bates and Eldridge have spoken about the problem. Bates said he was willing to discuss having her pay for an additional contractor if she's not satisfied after OPC has finished their spraying and final inspection.

BED BUG LAWS
Clark County Health Department Environmental Health Supervisor Scott Wilson confirmed there have been three bed bug complaints filed in regards to Clark Arms. However, unlike roach, rat and mosquito infestations there aren't laws that will allow the department to take punitive actions related to bed bugs, Wilson said.

"There really aren't laws written to control bed bugs," he said. "If it's written in the state codes or our ordinance we can give orders to correct the problems."

A GROWING CONCERN
OPC is a member of the National Pest Management Association and Blake sits on a national bed bugs task force within that organization.

Nationwide, he said, bed bugs are becoming an epidemic.

"Our bed bug treatments, since 2005, are doubling every year," he said.

According to the group's website, pestworld.org, the blood-feeders have been on the increase since 1995. Several factors led to their resurgence, according to the site, including increased international travel, more targeted pest control products and methods and a lack of public awareness about pest prevention methods.

The association notes bed bugs have been a household pest issue for more than 3,300 years, dating back to ancient Egypt. They were first brought to the United States by early colonists, where they thrived for many decades. By the 1950s, bed bugs had been all but eradicated in the developed world thanks to the availability of new pest control products, coupled with the widespread use of vacuums and washing machines.