Bed Bugs are Back: Are we Ready?

Overwhelmingly, around the world, bed bugs are back. Between the 1970s and 2000, reports of bed bug infestations across the western world were few and far between. Today they are increasingly common. Cities around the world are facing significantly higher numbers of bed bug infestations. The number of bed bug calls to New York City staff rose from 537 in 2004 to 6,889 in 2007. A survey of 121 pest control companies in Australia showed a rise in bed bug treatments from 158 in 2000 to 2,464 in 2005. Toronto is no exception. Before 2003, there are no recorded numbers of bed bug infestations, but they have been characterized by Toronto Public Health as sporadic and mild. In 2003, a Toronto study showed that there were only 46 reports of bed bugs to Toronto Public Health but by 2008, preliminary numbers showed that Toronto Public Health received reports of almost 1,500 bed bug infestations between March and October. Concerns about growing bed bug problems are being heard from Ottawa,2 Hamilton,3 Windsor,4 Kingston,5 London,6 Huntsville,7 North Bay,8 Wasaga Beach,9 and Owen Sound.10 Some of these cities have seen spectacular growth in the number of bed bug incidents over the last few years. The view of most experts is that the problem is growing rapidly and will likely become significantly worse unless there is rapid, focused, and multi-sector intervention.

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