Bed bugs, which had been virtually eradicated everywhere on Earth, have made a strong comeback by hiding in suitcases of frequent world travellers. They are starting to spread in Outaouais, mostly in urban areas like Gatineau. It is therefore important to ensure that they do not become an uncontrollable scourge, as they are in New York City.
Bed bugs do not pass any diseases on to humans. However, they are a public health problem because in addition to itchiness and lesions caused by their bites, they can interfere with sleep, cause anxiety and greatly diminish the quality of life of the people who are affected by them. Furthermore, because they reproduce quickly, bed bugs are a problem that can affect several people in a short period of time.
Some tips for avoiding bed bugs
You must be careful not to transport bed bugs from one building to another. To do so, here are a few tips:
• At all times, avoid taking in mattresses, upholstered furniture or bedroom furniture left by the side of the road. This could easily contain bed bugs. Carefully inspect previously-owned furniture;
• If you move into a building, consult the landlord, superintendent or tenants to find out if there’s a management policy or an action plan for dealing with bed bugs. It is preferable to move into a building that has such a plan, than a building whose history with bed bugs is uncertain;
• Before signing a contract with the movers, find out what measures they take to handle bed bugs. Do they offer clean coverings? If not, bring your own. Do they regularly clean their truck throughout the day? If not, inspect the truck;
• Once in your new place, vacuum everywhere before you bring in your furniture and other belongings. Dispose of the vacuum cleaner bags into the closed garbage bins outside. Check the baseboards (moldings) at the bottom of the walls, electric baseboard heating and other spots where small insects (about the size of a flattened apple seed) could hide; and
• Bed bugs can travel inside apartment furniture from one building to another: be careful for the first few weeks!
Don’t be afraid to speak up!
Lack of communication between parties (tenants, superintendents, landlords) during an infestation only makes the problem worse. Some tenants do not tell new arrivals about past infestations and some other tenants won’t talk to their neighbouring tenants out of shame or fear of losing money or even being evicted.
The worst decision you can make if your living space is infected with bed bugs is to move without informing the relevant parties of the problem: not only will that decision leave other tenants to deal with the bed bugs, but you also risk taking with you bed bug larvae or eggs into your new home when you move in.