Sister Hospitalized From Bed Bug Bites

WLKY.com (Louisville, KY)
Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A Jeffersonville woman said her 81-year-old sister was hospitalized after receiving severe bedbug bites.

Bedbugs are commonly found in apartment complexes,, and the Health Department said one Jeffersonville building has gotten several bed bug complaints.

"These people are actually paying to live with bedbugs," said Mary Hanley, the sister of a bedbug victim.

Hanley's said her 81-year-old sister was just released from the hospital after suffering severe bedbug bites.

Hanley's sister's back is red and splotchy and the family said she got the bedbugs at her apartment in the Claysburg Towers in Jeffersonville.

"They're terrible. We pulled it back and it's like moving, the sheets are moving. It was terrible, horrible," Hanley said.

The Health Department said bedbugs don't actually transmit diseases, like mosquitoes, but they do draw blood and hospitals stays because of their effects aren't unheard of.

"Some cases we have heard of people being hospitalized for secondary infections, not necessarily because of the bedbug and what it did, the bite and the scratching that happened later could've caused the issues," said Doug Bentfield with the Clark County Health Department.

The tower's management declined to comment on the issue, but the Clark County Health Department said since 2009 eight cases of bedbugs have been reported at Claysburg Tower, a public housing complex which is home to low-income seniors and residents on disability.

"Me and my sister went over to her apartment and pulled her covers back and they were just crawling everywhere and we were so scared. We've never seen those before and then she had blood all over her sheets where she had just been laying there," Hanley said.

"It's got nothing to do with the cleanliness of the environment or anything. It's got everything to do with, were you in contact with an area that just happens to have them?" Bentfield said.

Hanley said her sister, who has Alzheimer's, was one of the original residents in the building and that many family members have lived there in the past. She claimed they've never had a problem there before.

"They weren't on that floor yet. They're going floor by floor evidently, but they should have been doing better than this. It should have never gotten to that point," Hanley said.

"The problem with apartment complexes is everybody has to get on the same page so if there's a dwelling that has 40 different families in it, you can't just treat one apartment. You have to actually treat the entire facility," Bentfield said.

Hanley said she was told management is taking steps to remove the bugs, but her sister plans on moving out.

"She's coming out of there. I'm taking her out. She can't stay there," Hanley said.

Hanley said though her sister will move out of the Claysburg Towers, they're too scared to bring her things with her.

The Health Department said the best way to avoid acquiring bedbugs is to use extra caution when buying used furniture. At hotels, keep personal items away from upholstered surfaces and walls and check the bed for signs of the bugs before getting in.