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. . . bedbugs becoming a national epidemic

Monina Finklea wasn’t concerned when she spotted a lone bug - about the size of an apple seed - on her bed in the Naperville hotel where her family is staying while waiting to move into their new home.But that next morning, the Woodridge woman said she awoke to find about 100 bite marks across her itchy, aching body. Her daughter, Victoria, 7, who slept in the same bed, also had similar but fewer welts. “I didn’t even know bedbugs were real,” said Finklea, a registered nurse, of the July 15 incident. “It’s very uncomfortable. Even though I know I’m getting better, it actually still feels like something still is crawling inside of my skin.”

Another family filed a July 22 lawsuit in Cook County against a Rosemont Holiday Inn after guests claimed the room they rented was infested with bedbugs.

The reddish-brown, wingless insects, which have six legs and two antennae, had been all but eradicated decades ago before World War II. But, likely due to increased international travel, pesticide bans and resistance, the pests are back with a fervor. In fact, three months ago, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held the first-ever National Bedbug Summit in Arlington, Va. in response to frustrated landlords, hotel chains and housing authorities.

“It’s become an almost national epidemic and threat,” said Donald Baumgartner, an EPA life scientist. “There’s still kind of a question mark as to what is causing it and it hasn’t received a lot of attention because they’re not technically considered a public health pest since they don’t transmit human diseases. There’s still so much research that needs to be done.”

— Residents in a low income Lake County apartment complex were told they had to pay thousands to clean up a bed bug infestation, until Eyewitness News got involved.The owner of Oakwood apartments in Mount Dora tried to charge seven families almost $3,000 each for extermination fees.The South Florida based company, Miami Mar Incorporated, told the residents they would be kicked out if they didn’t pay.

“It’s just really frustrating, right now, you don’t know what you’re suppose to do at this point in time,” said one resident.The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development [HUD] helps pay the rent at the complex for people who can’t afford it. After Eyewitness News contacted HUD, the agency told the landlord extermination is an operating expense that the tenants don’t have to pay for.More

Baumgartner said the worst outbreaks are in Ohio, Los Angeles and New York City. Still, statistics are hard to come by because bedbug reporting isn’t required.More
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