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Weagamow dealing with bed bugs

Thursday November 29, 2012

Weagamow has hired three people to deal with bed bugs in two homes in the community.

“We even had one of the EHOs (environmental health officers) from Sioux Lookout come here to do a presentation on the radio regarding the bed bug problem,” said Weagamow Councillor Paul Johnup.

Johnup said the three workers have been working on the two houses for the past week-and-a-half using vacuum cleaners and a set of protective gear.

“With the first house they worked on, they had to take all the mattresses and all the belongings of that individual to the garbage dump,” Johnup said. “They were full of bed bugs.”
Although the workers kept cleaning the house, Johnup said the EHO indicated the house was “really infested with bed bugs, even in the walls.”

“So (the residents) were told to move to another house,” Johnup said. “Maybe we’ll use a steamer for that house.”

Johnup said the EHO suggested the use of a steam cleaner to get rid of the bed bugs in that house. Johnup also picked up information on steamers from a Mishkeegogamang councillor he talked to in Sioux Lookout. Mishkeegogamang had used steamers during a bed bug outbreak this past winter.

“(The three workers) worked on another house and that house is not too bad,” Johnup said. “They have it under control now.”

Johnup said the community has been provided with information on bed bugs, including how they migrate with people in their luggage or on their shoes or clothing, through community radio station broadcasts.

Bed bugs are parasitic insects that feed on blood. Although bed bugs were mostly eradicated in the 1940s, they have increased in prevalence since 1995.

Health Canada has posted a bed bug note on its website stating that bed bugs can be found everywhere from homeless shelters to five-star hotels to single family dwellings to public transportation. The note said anyone could get an infestation of bedbugs, which does not indicate a lack of cleanliness.

“The people in our community have been informed and made aware of the bed bugs and what they can do to try to alleviate the problem if they start noticing them,” Johnup said.

Johnup said there had previously been a bed bug outbreak in some other houses in the community, but those residents had dealt with the bed bugs on their own.

“Once you notice bed bugs, you (should) try to work on it right away,” Johnup said. “That’s what those other homeowners this past summer did. They noticed the bed bugs and worked on it right away.”

Johnup found some information on getting rid of bed bugs on the Internet, which suggested the vacuuming of crevices and cracks, the interior of electrical plugins and light switches and even the back of picture frames.

“Once you do that, you start using caulking also,” Johnup said, to plug up any crevices or cracks in the home.

Johnup said some people have also used bug sprays and household cleaners to deal with bed bugs.

“One of the homeowners here, I heard her talking on the radio, said she used baby powder,” Johnup said. “She just put (baby powder) on the cracks of the house inside there — suffocated them, eh.”

Editor’s Note: The following information comes from the Health Canada website:

Physical methods of controlling bedbugs include steam cleaning, vacuuming, heating, freezing, washing and throwing out items. Steam cleaning should be done before vacuuming, as the steam will flush any bedbugs not killed out of hiding. Heat treatments should be left to the professionals.

Steaming, washing and throwing out items
- Infested (but intact) mattresses, upholstery and plush items that cannot be washed with hot water and detergent should be steam cleaned. Bedbugs die at 50°C and steam cleaners generally emit steam at a temperature of at least 100°C. Dry steam or low vapour steamers are better because they leave behind less moisture. Steam will only kill the bedbugs that it reaches, so move the steam cleaner slowly to maximize depth. Avoid excess moisture, which could lead to mould.
- Putting small items in the freezer or outside is sometimes effective. However, freezing temperatures must be kept for a prolonged period (4 days of consistent cold at -19°C) and may not kill all of the bedbugs.
- Place small non-washable items and dry-clean-only items in a hot dryer for 30 minutes or more.
- Wash mattress pads, bedding, bed skirts, infested clothes, curtains, and so on in hot water and dry them on the hottest dryer setting. Store clean, dry items in light coloured sealed heavy duty plastic bags or plastic storage bins with secure lids to avoid infesting other areas.
- Throw out any items that can’t be washed, heated or steam cleaned.

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