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Health official says bed bugs ‘a growing concern’ locally

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 November 2013 at 12:00 am

ALBION – Albion homes are increasingly becoming infested with bed bugs, a problem that may be difficult to prevent because the bugs are “hitchhikers,” a public health officials told the Albion Village Board.

The Orleans County Health Department has been getting complaints about bed bugs locally since 2011, but the calls have increased this year, public health sanitarian Nancy Kelly told the Village Board on Wednesday.

“It’s a growing concern,” she said.

Bed bugs are considered a private nuisance, instead of a public health nuisance. That means the public health department isn’t very involved in the cases. When a complaint is made, Kelly will typically contact the local code enforcement officers.

Ron Vendetti, the code officer for Albion, said many local landlords have purchased steam cleaners and can take care of the problem at their properties. Other residents may turn to exterminators.

Houses and apartments that are clean can typically be rid of the bugs quickly. Homes with hoarders, with a lot of clutter, may struggle to get rid of the pests, Vendetti said.

Kelly said bed bugs bother people from all backgrounds – rich, poor and middle class. The bugs have been discovered in schools and work places. They easily can “hitch hike” from public places and come home with someone, she said.

The bugs also spread from discarded furniture. Some furniture has been left by the curb because of a bug infestation. The couch or chair often is then picked up by a passing motorist, who brings it – and bed bugs – home.

Mayor Dean Theodorakos said the village will use its newsletter to warn residents about picking up discarded furniture due to the bed bug possibility.

Kelly said Albion could also pass legislation requiring landlords and property owners to take action when there is a complaint about bed bugs. Vendetti didn’t think a new law was a good idea or would accomplish much.

“How do you legislate a bug?” Vendetti asked.

The landlords also shouldn’t be held entirely responsible for the property, Vendetti said. The residents often bring in the bugs, and their lifestyles may make it difficult to rid the places of the pests.

“We also have cockroaches and mice,” Vendetti said. “We have a number of problems that revolve around the condition of properties.”