Bedbugs in Marlborough and take up 40 percent of the time of the city's health inspector.
"40 percent of a health inspectors time is taken up with bedbugs,” said Robert Landry, the Administrator for the Board of Health.
Although the issue came to light within the last few years with bedbugs cropping up in hotels, they have been an issue for the last 10 years for boards of health and municipalities, said Landry. It is something that can impact anyone, he said. Those who are allergic to the bits of the insects which feed off of blood can have a rash develop as the bugs comes out to feed at night.
"They like the tight little cracks and crevices. People think about them behind the bed but they are all over the place," said Landry.
In Hamden Connecticut the books in the Miller Library had to be baked after bedbugs were transported into the library in the pages of books.
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A call to the board of health kicks off a set series of events to investigate and eliminate bedbugs.
“From the time a call comes in, which starts the ball rolling, we need to go out and inspect. That triggers an order being issued to a responsible party. Usually to the landlord or property owner," said Assistant Sanitarian Deirdre O'Connor.
Following an inspection which confirms the presence of bedbugs, a treatment must be followed very strictly to eliminate the bugs. Home remedies do not work, as the bugs they were designed to affect are an old strain that does not have the modern day insect's immunities. These treatments can often drive the bugs further into the walls and crevices where they can lie dormant for years.
“It makes it worse. It drives them into the walls and last for ever,” said O'Connor.
Treatment needs to be bought into by everyone involved, she said. Chemical or heat treatment, where rooms in the unit are brought up to temperatures of 140 degrees, often needs to be done repeatedly. It requires cooperation and coordination, as was evidenced by a call that O'Connor made during our discussion of the topic to speak with a resident about the treatments at their apartments.
“Often times it's several treatments, as many as three,” said O'Connor.
It is a very personal matter that can often be contentious between the parties involved, which requires even more committment from the board, explained officials. The treatment can be very costly, up to thousands of dollars, and often has to be done throughout multiple units in larger complexes to ensure the bugs are eliminated.
O'Connor has had informational pamphlets printed in multiple languages to assure that anyone affected knows how to take control of the situation.
For more information on begbugs, the state has an information page available.