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Northern Health review of bed bugs in Houston

<p>Diatomaceous earth sealing the entrance of an apartment unit at 3134 Hagman Crescent.</p> -

Diatomaceous earth sealing the entrance of an apartment unit at 3134 Hagman Crescent.

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In the story "Bed bugs in apartments at 3134 Hagman Crescent," published in the Houston Today July 19, 2017 issue reports that apartment owner, Arvind Patel, was made aware in mid April 2017 that a live bed bug active in one of the units. The unit was treated but tenants complained in mid May 2017 that there was more activity. Concerned tenants sought the aid and advice of Northern Health. A Northern Health environmental health officer visited the building on July 12, 2017.

"We did not do an inspection. We don't have a specific mandate to respond to bed bug complaints. But when our team is made aware, they can offer recommendations around pest control measures," said Collins.

Collins said that upon arrival the Northern Health environmental health officer was under the indication that the building was confirmed to have bed bugs.

"Our environmental health staff have been made aware of this issue," said Eryn Collins, media relations for Northern Health. "Northern Health does not have a specific mandate regarding bed bugs. Bed bugs are not considered a public health issue, but of course can be a nuisance and cause stress and anxiety for those dealing with them."

Collins said that the Northern Health environmental health officer has offered recommendations to the owner and tenants on pest control.

"The Northern Health officer recommendated taking steps in setting up barriers and sealing up cracks where the bed bugs can get in and to heat treatment the units," said Collins.

"Our staff in Smithers have been actively involved with both the landlord and tenants to address the situation," said Collins.

Patel said that all 12 units of the building have be reinspected and only one unit was found positive for bed bugs. Patel said that the unit is being treated and he has offered the rest of the tenants to have their unit treated as well, even though they tested negative for bed bugs.

Patel said that in total five units will be treated, including the one unit that tested positive for bed bugs, and four other units at the request of the tenants.

"On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, we clogged up all the units [sealing the perimeters with diatomaceous earth] so that migration does not take place," said Patel.

He added that he will be covering all the costs of treatment, except for the moving of furniture and belongings to the tenants.

"He is doing everything that Northern Health suggested, and we as tenants have asked," said an anonymous tenant. "On the weekend four people including Arvind and other uncertified tenants have been treating the units. It has been done very well, even my unit was swept and dusted. The other tenants are very approachable and very kind. We'll be able to say we're bed bug free."

"Although actions are being taken the diatomaceous earth earth is still a health risk to us," said the same anonymous tenant on July 21, 2017. "Yesterday my cats I had respiratory issues, I ended up taking myself to the hospital and will be seeing the doctor today."

The same anonymous tenant added, "I hope that Arvind will do a followup treatment and inspection which he agreed to in front of Northern Health and the other tenants."

Another tenant who left the apartment due to chemical sensitivity for them and their family members said that they are dissatisfied with the recent treatment.

"We will not be paying rent for June. We have abandoned the apartment," said the tenant. "It has taken six months to have this done. We were essentially thrown to the wolves for six months. We don't do business that way, and we won't do business with people who operate in such a manner."

Collins said that people can visit Health Link BC for an overview of bed bugs and how to get rid of them at https://www.healthlinkbc.ca/health-topics/za1160

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