SF's Bed Bug Infestation Getting Worse-44% And "hundreds of calls" Worse
October 6, 2010 2:20 PM
Are you ready for a healthy dose of paranoia inducing bug news? Well, here it comes: the bedbug invasion of SF is only getting worse. Invasion, in the US vs. Iraq/Afghanistan sense of the word - the bugs have held a presence here for a long time but the number of troops are growing over the years. In the past couple weeks, there has been quite a surge.
The Public Health Department has seen a 44 percent increase in cases over the past three years. Since bed bugs lay and hatch eggs quicker and more plentiful when it's hot, the recent heat wave has caused a spike in cases. Since the hot weather hit, the Health Department has fielded hundreds of calls about the little beasts.
While most complaints come from single room occupancies (SROs) in the Tenderloin, SoMa and the Mission, the bugs can and do show up everywhere. It was once a common assumption that bedbugs are linked to poverty, but that is not the case. All over the country, they have infiltrated upscale condos, private residencies, movie theaters, and even corporate headquarters like the Penguin Group in Manhattan.
To really get a feel for how widespread this is, check out the National Bed Bug Registry,coincidentally started by a San Franciscan. The San Francisco page shows reports in many different neighborhoods, from the Richmond to Russian Hill.
"It's become an increasingly serious problem in all rental housing in San Francisco," said Sara Shortt, executive director of the Housing Rights Committee of San Francisco. "If it's not treated properly, it becomes explosive, and that's been part of the problem. There wasn't aggressive treatment by landlords."
Bedbugs don't carry diseases but they do leave nasty bite marks on people that are allergic to the numbing agent in their saliva. If you are not allergic, you may be getting bit and don't even know it. For example, this SFBG writer reported last year that it took a while to figure out what was going on when his girlfriend was getting bit every night but he was not.
So, what do we do about it? First, figure out if you have them. Bed bugs only come out for short periods of time and are good at hiding. If you find dark spots (blood or feces), shed skins, eggs, and dead bugs on your mattress, box spring, or linens, you probably have bed bugs. It is recommended that you actually find a bed bug before you start freaking out at your landlord.
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