Residents of a Burnaby B.C. housing complex are fed up with a chronic infestation of bed bugs that has persisted despite numerous attempts to eradicate the bloodsuckers.
Stratford Gardens, a multi-building housing complex on Pandora Street, has been infested with the bugs for years.
"It's on ongoing thing," said resident Marilyn McLeod. "I'm tired of this."
Nirmal Bains, another resident, said she had no bed to sleep on because of the bugs.
"I just hope someone can do something about them," she said. "It's gone on so long."
Rick Rizzuto has lived at Stratford Gardens for approximately eight years, and he estimated that the infestation has lasted the past couple of years.
"I've been bitten. They like me," he said. "I would get a new bed and a new couch, . but you can't up and spend $2,000 every time there's an infestation."
Rizzuto has seen the bugs crawling on his arms and legs. He has avoided his family, for fear of spreading the infestation.
"Last time I saw my parents was four years (ago). I can't see anyone because of this," he said.
B.C. Housing has brought in pest control crews, but the bugs are still an ongoing problem.
"I don't know what can be done," Rizzuto said. "There's a lot of mental illness here. People are dumpster diving and bringing stuff home."
B.C Housing sent an emailed statement to the NOW about bed bugs in its housing complexes and remediation measures in place.
"Bed bugs are a problem in most major urban centres. This is a much larger issue and not one confined to rental properties," the statement read. "We believe we have a detailed and thorough program in place to try to eliminate bed bugs at our housing developments, however it is not uncommon to have to do repeat treatments to totally remove the bugs depending on the level and origin of the infestation. In any property, eradicating bed bugs is a joint effort that relies on the full co-operation of both landlord and the tenant."
B.C. Housing staff meet with tenants before and after treatments to discuss how to prepare for fumigation and effective prevention activities afterwards, the email stated.
"We hire professional pest control experts to advise us on the best treatments available, and we provide a range of assistance and advice to tenants to help eliminate bed bugs and to prevent them from re-establishing. We are dedicating significant financial resources to this problem. Last year we spent approximately $800,000 in the Lower Mainland on bed bug-related pest control."
However, the provincial housing agency does not alert tenants about the bugs before they move in.
"We do not warn people about bed bugs at any of our housing developments. While they are unpleasant, bed bugs do not present a public health hazard - as they do not spread disease. We have an active bed bug remediation program and address the issue as soon as it is brought to our attention," the email states.
Still, Rizzuto said he's sick and tired of living with the bugs.
"You turn the lights out, and they are crawling all over your chair and the bed," he said. "There are some nights you can't sleep. You see them, and you kill them, and you can't sleep now."
Bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed, and they feed at night on human blood.
While their bites can cause allergic reactions in some people, they are not considered a health hazard as they don't spread diseases.
According to Health Canada, they can hide under wallpaper, in electrical outlets, and inside mattresses and box springs. To get rid of bed bugs, people are advised to contact a pest control company or tell their landlord.
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