Required disclosure of bed-bug infestations?

Legislation would require disclosure of bed-bug infestations

By: Joshua Sabatini | 10/18/12 8:49 PM
SF Examiner Staff Writer

The full Board of Supervisors is expected to approve legislation that would require pest control companies to provide monthly reports of eradicated bedbug infestations.

In an effort to crack down on blood-sucking bedbugs, San Francisco may soon require pest control companies to provide monthly reports of their eradication efforts and make landlords give tenants a two-year record of any such infestations.

Tenants shared horrific tales of scars and blood-stained sheets, and issued complaints about a general lack of response in eliminating the pests during Thursday’s Board of Supervisors Rules Committee hearing on legislation aimed to curtail bedbug blight.

Bedbugs are small parasitic insects that feed on human blood, usually late at night. They are not considered carriers of disease, but their bites can cause redness, itching and swelling.

Supervisor Jane Kim, who has made tackling bedbugs a priority, authored legislation that would require the Department of Public Health to collect and disseminate monthly reports from pest control operators about the number of housing units they treated. It also would require landlords to disclose a two-year bedbug history upon request by prospective tenants, and it would force them to treat infestations in compliance with regulations drafted by the department, which would certify the treatments within 30 days.

The rules also would apply to hotels serving tourists, except for the disclosure provision.
Violators would face fines of up to $1,000 a day.

Richard May, who has worked as a renters’ counselor at the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco, said the legislation’s approval would put San Francisco “at the forefront of the fight against bedbugs.” May called bedbugs “a pervasive and ongoing problem” and noted that San Francisco is a major tourist attraction.
“We never want this place to be known as a bedbug haven,” May said.

The legislation grew out of more than two years of discussion by San Francisco’s bedbug working group, which includes representatives from the Mission, Tenderloin, Chinatown and South of Market neighborhoods.
Those involved in addressing the bedbug problem say there has been lack of clarity about how infestations should be addressed and who is responsible, which can create tension between landlords and tenants.
Karen Cohn, a department program manager, said her agency plans to advertise on Muni to alert tenants about ways to prevent bedbug infestations and how to report property owners who do not address the problem. The department would hire an additional worker to meet the certification requirement.

Kim, who called the parasites a “citywide epidemic that has been plaguing many of our different neighborhoods,” said the legislation was “just the first of many steps.”

“There is much more that we need to do,” she said.

The full board is expected to approve the legislation.

Read more at the San Francisco Examiner:

Harmful Effects of Bed Bug Infestations and Humans

University of Florida Study Examines Potentially Harmful Effects a Bed Bug Infestation Can Have on Humans

Thursday, 18 October 2012

A University of Florida study released in the Journal of Medical Entomology suggests that uncontrolled populations of bed bugs can reach harmful levels for humans in three to eight months. The study demonstrated that bed bugs feeding on a 1 year-old child can have harmful effects when feeding daily in as short of a time as 11 weeks.

Even though many have stated bed bugs are not a health risk because they can’t transmit disease, this study raises questions as to whether or not those statements are accurate. In situations where a high level of bed bug infestation goes untreated, there is a greater risk for anemia. This study helps to reiterate the importance of identifying infestations and taking measures to reduce the impact bed bugs can have on humans.

These findings combined with the recent research that bed bugs can have a measurable psychological impact on humans, may cause certain people to think twice about labeling bed bugs as a non-health risk.

“One of the important things about our study was that we were able to prove that bed bug populations have a greater potential to grow than we originally thought,” said Dr. Roberto M. Pereira, Associate Research Scientist at the University of Florida. “Because we allowed them to feed on a daily basis, our research showed that bed bugs consumed about three times as much blood as we’re used to seeing. With this boost in feeding and consumption the bed bugs ended up producing three times as many eggs, therefore population growth was a lot faster than expected. This study proved to us that the potential of blood loss in humans is actually real and can get to harmful enough levels within 15 – 20 weeks.”