Chicago vs. Bed Bugs

Advocating policy to control the spread of bed bugs in the City of Chicago

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Logan Square’s Got Bed Bugs, Too

Posted by Jessica on January 10, 2009

Folks, it occurred to me recently that our organization must overcome two major obstacles, and quickly. First, in order to be taken seriously, we must establish the fact that bed bug infestations are in fact spreading in Chicago, and we must do this by presenting as much concrete evidence as we possibly can. And second, in order to make any progress, we must establish the fact that it is imperative for our city to get involved in controlling the spread of bed bug infestations right away. It seems to me that the people in positions of power in our city either don’t believe or aren’t aware that bed bug infestations are spreading, or they don’t believe or aren’t aware that it is the responsibility– and in the best interest– of our city to control the spread of bed bug infestations.

So you might notice some redundancy in my posts over the next few weeks. Rest assured that it is intentional redundancy. You’re going to see a lot of information about other cities, and about bed bugs and human health, and about infestations in our neighborhoods. Now you know why. Please bear with me. I’m on a mission!

That said, Chicagoans, according to Bed Bugs Bite Chicago: Infestations of nocturnal blood sucking insects on the rise, an article written by Columbia College Chicago student Kelly Rix in the December 1, 2008 edition of the Columbia Chronicle, Logan Square’s got bed bugs. Rix writes

Logan Square resident Joe Andert, 19, got bedbugs about two months ago and just recently had them exterminated. When the problem persisted, Andert said he and his girlfriend started investigating and heard about other people getting bedbugs in Chicago.

Chris Enright, the Chicago central services manager for Orkin Pest Control, said in the past couple of years he has seen a significant increase in the number of calls his branch receives about bedbug infestations…

Okay, so Logan Square’s got bed bugs, and as Logan Square resident John Andert recently discovered, all it takes is a little research to see that many, many other Chicagoans have bed bugs, too. And if Orkin Pest Control has seen a significant increase in the number of calls it’s received about bed bug infestations in Chicago, I think it’s probably safe to assume that other local pest management companies have also seen significant increases. Do you have any idea how many pest management companies serve the City of Chicago? Grab your yellow pages and flip to “pest”. I can’t even attempt the math here, but I don’t think it’s really necessary. Chicago, we’ve got a problem.

If the statement from the City of Chicago Department of Public Health in Rix’s article is any indication of its position on our bed bug problem, well, we’re in big trouble:

According to the Chicago Department of Public Health, although they feed on blood, bedbugs have not been shown to transmit any diseases and are not considered a serious public health threat.

Sounds to me like DPH is spinning, and spinning hard. It sounds to me like DPH is doing its best to downplay the problem. Well, by spinning and downplaying and ignoring the problem, the Chicago Department of Public Health is making itself– and our city– look really, really bad.

Here’s a list of other cities (and even a state or two) whose departments of health are taking responsibility–or whose legislators are working to involve departments of health in taking responsibility– for protecting homeowners, tenants, landlords, and businesses from the physical and financial hardships that accompany bed bug infestations:

City of Chicago, for a world-class city, we sure are looking second-rate.  And as for the City of Chicago Department of Public Health, well, bed bugs are a serious matter to almost every other department of health in almost every other major city in our country. Isn’t it time to stop spinning and start protecting our city? Chicago is, after all, bidding to host the 2016 Olympics. It wouldn’t do to have our hotels and our trains and our businesses overflowing with bed bugs by then, would it? That’s exactly what we’re headed for if our city doesn’t create and enforce policy to control the spread of bed bug infestations NOW.

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