In off-campus housing, it appears bed bug wave has reached Ann Arbor

BY STEPHANIE BERLIANT
Daily Staff Reporter
Published September 28, 2010

In recent months, bed bugs have been making their way across the United States, starting on the East Coast and now the bed bug wave has reached Ann Arbor.

Bed bug breakouts have reportedly occurred in at least two units of Corner House Apartments, located on the 200 block of South State Street, the Muriel Lester Cooperative House, located on Oakland Avenue and an apartment on Arch Street. Representatives from Lester Co-op and the Arch Street apartment had not returned phone calls seeking comments by press time.

Amy Khan, the vice president of CMB Property Management, which manages Corner House Apartments, said that after one residence reported a possible infestation on Sept. 20, a pest control company began treatment the next day. Other residences were inspected and treatment began on a total of four residences. Residents of the building say there may have been bugs in more than just those apartments.

Bed bugs get their name because they typically reside in box springs and the baseboard of beds, coming out to feed on human blood only in the dark. They don’t do much damage beyond biting their hosts — allergic reactions are typically the worst consequence. But getting rid of bed bugs can be costly, time-consuming and become a recurring problem if not caught early or properly treated.

Two residents of Corner House Apartments who were in one of the treated units, who requested their names be withheld due to the stigma associated with having bed bugs, said the management handled it well, but it has still been a lot of trouble. The residents said they have had to put every piece of laundry in the dryer under high heat and move all their furniture three times to date.

“Both of our parents had to come and help. We’ve had to vacuum and Lysol all the furniture multiple times,” one of the residents said. “We have to keep all of our clothes in plastic tubs right now where the bugs won’t get in.”

The four infested apartments have been fumigated between two and three times, and will be inspected again today, Khan said. After they are cleared, CMB will replace the bed frames and mattresses in every infected apartment.

The residents said they realized they had bedbugs when one of them went to University Health Services with several welts on her arm. After a doctor there said it was probably bed bugs, the residents called their landlord and found out bugs had been found down the hall.

Both Khan and the residents could only speculate about the possible sources of the bugs, saying they could have been brought back on luggage when the residents moved in or from furniture that was already in place in the apartments.

Bed bugs have recently been in the news after shops, movie theaters and health clubs across New York City were shut down after identifying insect infestations. Detroit was ranked as the third most bed bug-infested city in America, according to an August report by pest control company Terminix.

The nationwide infestation sparked the BedBug University's North American Summit in Chicago, Ill. last week, which discussed possible action plans for the problem, according to Pest Control Technology, one of the pest control industry’s primary news resource centers.

PCT reported that the summit discussed the spread of bed bugs from bedrooms to office buildings and in retail establishments.

Despite this recent surge, University Housing spokesman Peter Logan said he isn't concerned about a bed bug outbreak in the residence halls because workers have been keeping them clean.

“Over the past five years (University Housing) has had all of two confirmed cases of bed bugs in our residence halls. That’s all,” Logan said. “By virtue of how we maintain our facilities, we don’t envision a widespread outbreak of bed bugs.”

Logan said in each case, the bugs didn’t spread to other rooms, as bed bugs are infamous for doing. If bed bugs were to become a problem in residential housing, Logan said a student evacuation would be very unlikely.

“We’d confirm it was bed bugs, we’d advise the residents how to properly wash bed linens and clothing, then we’d monitor the situation,” Logan said. “There wouldn’t be a widespread outbreak.”

For now, the Corner House Apartments residents said they hope their apartment will be declared bug-free soon, and have even started joking about the ordeal.

“Now when we go to bed we say, ‘Don’t let the bed bugs bite!’” one of the residents said.