Bed Bugs Bite New York Tourism

<"">Bed bugs have been found at the New York City Ballet and New York City Opera at Lincoln Center; a variety of popular stores, including Nike Inc.’s flagship store, Victoria’s Secret, Hollister, and Abercrombie and Fitch; large offices, such as Sirius Radio and the Wall Street Journal headquarters; theatres; and both housing projects and chic apartments. The Associated Press (AP) added the Empire State Building and Bloomingdale’s to the growing list saying travelers are changing plans to visit New York.

Also, according to the AP, it seems that reports of new infestations in Manhattan have been occurring on a nearly daily basis and, now, Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s administration has expressed concern that the tiny pests are impacting the City’s image and hurting its $30 billion tourism industry.

The AP said reports of bed bugs in popular, high-end locations don’t often point to infestations, noting that only one bug was found at Bloomingdale’s, the Empire State Building had them in the basement, and Lincoln Center’s pests were found in one dressing room. Regardless, as reports continue to mount, travelers are canceling trips and travel professionals are nervous about the impact to NY City’s travel industry, said the AP.

”It sounds like you can get them anywhere, any time of day and not know it until you get home,” said Patty Majerik, from Baltimore, quoted the AP. “I’ve got four people traveling on a train, in cabs, going to stores and theaters, and they could be in any of these places? I hate to say it, but I doubt we’re going to come this time,” Majerik added.

“We thought long and hard about this trip,” Suzanne Baldwin of Florida wrote the AP in an email. “However, we decided, knowing we would lose quite a bit of money from nonrefundable tickets, it was not worth the worry,” Baldwin added in a discussion about why she is canceling her long-planned trip to NY.

“You don’t want anything that would dissuade people from coming here,” Mayor Bloomberg told reporters. `”Hopefully these things come and go, and this will go quickly,” the mayor added, quoted the AP.

Bedbugs which can survive a year without feeding, said the AP, are very difficult to eliminate and, although nearly eradicated and not seen in any significant numbers in the United States in the past 50 years, they have returned in earnest, showing up virtually everywhere, with new reports cropping up daily. Not disease carriers, the pests can bite, leaving people with uncomfortable, itchy wounds.

Many feel the growing problem with bed bug infestations has been linked to increased travel and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the public’s lack of information on bed bug prevention. The agency stresses there is no one, quick response, but that infestation management can be achieved via a collaboration of “chemical and non-chemical methods,” quoted Information Week previously.

The reduced use of powerful pesticides such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane—DDT—which was banned in the 1960s, as well as use of narrow spectrum products targeting specific pests, have enabled the bugs to survive, thrive, and develop pesticide resistance. Now, bed bugs appear to be turning up everywhere and appear to be virtually unresponsive to chemicals, which only seem to be having a negative effect on people.

The resurgent pests have sparked at least two lawsuits and many more lawsuits are expected as bed bugs continue to show up in an ever-growing range of areas.

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