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Bed bugs in the locker room and beyond

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Blizzards and holiday-themed stories may have pushed bed bugs out of the news lately, but as this picture--snapped in the locker room of an Upper West Side gym this week--attests, the epidemic continues to unfold around us.

The City of New York is still in the process of implementing its response--which in practical terms has so far resulted in a requirement that all mattresses be sealed in plastic before disposal. Next up, we understand, will be the launching of an online bed bug "portal" for public education.

Yesterday, Bedbugger.com listed the highlights of a long-awaited report by another very bedbugged locale, the state of Ohio.  Recommendations include federal funding for low-income residents who can't afford effective treatment; lobbying the EPA for an exemption to its ban against the bed-bug-killing chemical Propoxur as well as for funding of new chemicals; health department inspections of hotels and motels; mandatory inspections of any residences that share a wall with an infested apartment; figuring out who's in charge of what, and education.

To that last point, as Bedbugger.com notes in a separate post about this week's National Bed Bug Forum in Denver, a respected researcher at the forum was reported by the Denver Post as calling for a return to "eternal vigilance."

From the Denver Post article:

When bedbugs last surged, in the early to mid-1900s, Americans trained themselves in "eternal vigilance," [University of Kentucky researcher Michael] Potter said. They checked for bedbugs whenever they ventured away from home. Dedicated "search and destroy" missions by parents and public servants virtually eradicated the pests by the late 1950s.

"Eternal vigilance," however, was short-lived, and they're back with a vengeance. Americans travel more. Immigration continues. Secondhand furniture, clothes and other recyclables are in vogue. The hitchhiking insects have even more opportunities to get around.

Another factor, Potter said, is that people have more stuff — more hiding places for bedbugs, which like to aggregate in any dark nook and cranny, not just mattresses....Pest controllers are going to find themselves literally going through people's drawers and underwear.

And New York City apartment dwellers will be going through a lot of Ziplocs.

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