“War” On Bed Bugs Urged In New York City

Although plaguing the entire nation, it seems as if bed bugs have descended, in earnest, on New York City. In response, Manhattan borough president, Scott Stringer, is urging New York’s Mayor Bloomberg to step up action against the pests before the situation spirals.

“I’m calling for a full on war against bedbugs starting in the public school system,” Stringer told the Daily News. “We should deal with bedbugs the way we deal with crime spikes, and we need to do it before it gets out of control,” Stinger added.

According to Stringer, calls to the City’s 311 hotline concerning bed bugs increased in Manhattan by 21 percent from 2004 to 2009 and 19 percent for all of New York City, noted the Daily News. Just prior, the News said that confirmed cases of beg bugs in City schools were 336 in the first two months of the school year, versus 135 for the same period the prior year, said the Daily News.

Stringer feels schools are the first line of attack in the so-called battle against bed bugs, saying that school employees are responsible to locate the pests and reach out to the City for assistance, wrote the Daily News. Stringer also said that the City should hire a team of inspectors and exterminators to look for and eliminate bed bugs, added the Daily News. “We’re forcing principals and teachers to act like CSI inspectors,” he said. “It’s like fighting a building fire with a garden hose,” quoted the Daily News.

“You can’t fight this epidemic with a paltry, small army,” he said. “We’re in the middle of this bedbug war. We’ve already lost the Waldorf, we lost Lincoln Center, hundreds of residential buildings, and now we see we’re losing public schools,” Sringer said. Earlier this year, the City implemented a new website and advisory committee, which reports to the City Council, said the Daily News.

Deputy commissioner for the city Health Department, Daniel Kass, said that while he “wouldn’t disagree” with Stringer’s plan, if necessary, but “A single bedbug is not an infestation…. It may not require the kind of response he’s calling for,” quoted the Daily News. “It’s not accurate to say the city is not doing a lot…. The reality is there are substantial resource constraints,” Kass added.

“I think we’ve spent too much time studying the issue and need to go back to basics…. The mayor and City Council say we have an advisory panel and experts speaking about how to eradicate bedbugs, but the real way to fix this is to find and kill them,” Stringer responded, the Daily News reported.

The Waldorf Astoria has been hit with two lawsuits and a third report of complaints of bed bugs. The resurgent pests have sparked at least two other lawsuits; many more lawsuits are expected as the pest show up in an ever-growing range of areas.

Bed bugs have been reported at the Jersey City Municipal Court and the Hudson County Plaza building in New Jersey; the administrative offices of the University of Wisconsin Health and Clinics; 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, Bloomingdale’s, and Abercrombie and Fitch; offices, such as Sirius Radio and the Wall Street Journal headquarters; theatres; housing projects and chic apartments; a couple of hospitals nationwide; and the Empire State Building. At least five states have sought assistance from the Department of Defense and the state of Ohio recently asked the Environmental Protection Agency for permission to use a banned pesticide, said ABC News previously.

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