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Ontario city government declares $5 million war on bed bugs

The holiday season is a time to visit friends and family, share meals and make memories. However, frequenting airports and hotels can leave travelers vulnerable to bed bug infestations that they can carry with them back to their homes at the end of the season.

Bed bugs spread by latching onto people’s clothing and possessions. They need to stay where people are, and they love cloth, wood and other easy to latch on to materials. This makes trains, planes, hotel rooms, and even taxi cabs the perfect places for bed bugs to wait for a new person to hitchhike on, as there are always plenty of places to hide and plenty of people to go home with.

Most hotels and resorts have been very proactive at keeping bed bugs at bay, but since they are inadvertently carried in by the guests they do on occasion get past even the best-trained personnel. We have also had bed bugs start to pop up in residential houses and again most of the time it is from a house guest that has been traveling abroad and brings them unknowingly in their luggage.

Bed bugs aren’t just a Greater Toronto Area problem — they’ve become more of a problem in the Peterborough and the Kawarthas area within the last year, a pest control professional says. Health Canada explains bed bugs were long considered eradicated in most cities but they’re “making a comeback” since people aren’t using insecticides such as DDT, which used to keep the bed-bug population at bay with residues that work after the product was sprayed.

The Ontario government is spending $5 million to educate citizens about bed bug risks such as discarded furniture and to fund local public health programs that target individuals who are most vulnerable to infestations. Under the government plan, health units would use the cash to support local bedbug programs, boost awareness and assist the vulnerable.

It has been said that there will also be a “pest management” guidebook for landlords and others teaching them how to identify infestations, conduct thorough inspections and prepare rooms for treatments to get rid of the pesky creatures. The government also launched an education campaign with a website that tells people how to identify and eliminate the nighttime pests.

Ontario announced a $5 million campaign to stamp out bedbugs Monday. The province also has set up a Web site — — with information on preventing and treating infestations, reported. ”We are taking a proactive stance in addressing the growing issue of bedbugs,” provincial legislator Mike Colle said during the announcement at a Toronto senior center.

“This issue really devastates people.” Colle said infestation reports have soared from 46 in 2003 to 1,500 in 2009. “No doubt there is a huge demand for (financial) help,” he said, noting getting rid of the pests can cost thousands per infestation. “It’s not a poor person’s thing; anyone can bring them in.

You have to find the source and know what to do to prevent them from coming in.” Sujata Ganguli, director of the senior center, said it has clients in five public housing buildings currently dealing with the insects. ”The public awareness campaign is fantastic,” she said. “Some of our clients who don’t have the Internet won’t be able to access the site, but this means our staff has access to the information.”

Bed Bugs can survive up to a year without feeding but generally like to feed every five to ten days. If you think you have bed bugs, call a pest professional in your area and have them come inspect the area in question. When welcoming family and friends into your home who have been staying in hotels or on a cruise ship, be aware that bed bugs may have hitched a ride with them.

Being aware of the problem and taking some preventative steps can save you lots of headaches and money in the long run. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind while traveling this holiday season to make sure you don't take bed bugs home with you.

Bed bug experts recommend hotel guests check any bed bug hotel registries before booking a stay. If a hotel has been infested within the last couple of weeks, the pests might not all be gone and travelers should stay away. In addition, travelers should spray their luggage inside and out prior to getting on a flight, and inspect the luggage when they leave the airport.

by S. C.
31 december 2011, World News > America