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A 39-page battle plan for ending New York City’s bed bug epidemic will be released tomorrow afternoon at a press conference by Mayor Bloomberg. [Updated 7/28/10 4:40 p.m.: Download a copy of the report at the bottom of this story.]
BrickUnderground has learned the highlights from Gil Bloom, one of three entomologists on Bloomberg’s 10-member Bed Bug Advisory Board, which finished its soon-to-be published report in April.
“Bed bugs are a pest like no other,” the report apparently intones, citing statistics that demonstrate the velocity at which the insects have spread here.
In 2009, for example, there were 63% more 311 residential bed bug complaints citywide than in 2008 (23,790 vs 14,573). That’s nearly double the 35% spike between 2007 and 2008.
“If fully implemented, the recommendations could reverse the current increase in bed bug activity and actually improve our situation,” says Bloom, who as president of pest-control company Standard Pest Management is a battle-tested veteran of the city’s bed bug war.
Key elements of the plan include:
- Creating a Bed Bug Team headed by an entomologist to coordinate the city’s bed bug control efforts
- A massive public education effort and a city-funded “Bed Bug Academy” for building & property managers and possibly pest management professionals.
- An online Bed Bug Portal devoted to vetted bed bug facts and resources for residents, landlords, property managers, city agencies, health care and social services providers etc. The portal could also be used to track infestation statistics by district to identify “reservoirs” of infestations requiring special attention and funding.
- A clear protocol for residents dealing with a bed bug problem, including a “triage” plan detailing what to do (and not do) in the first 24 hours
- Guidelines for throwing away infested items, as well as for donating used clothes and furniture and shopping at secondhand stores
- Assigning bed bug cases higher priority in Housing Court, and giving stronger rights of access to apartments that have become bed bug reservoirs. Property owners would also be required to distribute bed bug information with lease signings and renewals
The biggest challenges to implementing the board's recommendations? Finding the money to fund them, and tempering the desire for immediate results.
"This is a broad-based and systematic approach which will take time to implement across the city," Bloom cautioned.
"There are many obstacles, including misinformation, unwarranted stigma and fear, and cost factors. But if these obstacles are not overcome, the situation will get worse, and the bed bugs will just laugh."
All bed bug stories here.