Friday, January 8, 2010

ST. GEORGE - While Dixie Care and Share is open to the homeless, bedbugs have also made themselves right at home.

Kara Coop, executive director of care and share, said she's paid thousands and thousands of dollars in treatments to exterminate the pests.
"They're just not something you can get rid of," she said. "It's a nationwide epidemic right now."
Coop said bedbugs are in motels and shelters. It's just a matter of one person coming from a place that has bedbugs to start the cycle all over again.
"We've been fighting them for a long time - we've had the whole place tented, that was a year ago," she said. "We've bought new mattresses four or five times - we do treatments continuously. The only cure is going to be a new facility."
Since they can't eliminate the bedbugs, they just keep treating the problem as it arises.
"We need a new Dixie Care and Share - once you have a new facility you can take different precautions to keep them out," Coop said.
She added a lot of clients get bit and a lot of clients don't. Jon Patteson from Denver, Colo., was one client who was bitten by the bedbugs.
Patteson said he lost his job and was working his way down to Reno, Nevada.
The week before Christmas Patteson stayed at the Care and Share as he was passing through.
"I was there two days and have been eaten alive by bedbugs," he said. "I'm afraid to go back. Talk about kicking a man when he's down."
Patteson said the attitude toward the bedbugs at the shelter is callous.
"They (shelter management) say there's nothing they can do about it, they say they spray and (they) come back," he said.
While at the shelter, Patteson said around the breakfast table people would joke about the bedbugs.
"They would joke 'how were the bugs for you last night,'" he said.
Chau Ly, new customer specialist at Orkin Inc., said typically people get bedbugs from traveling from different hotels, airplanes or homeless shelters.
He added they're not like ants or cockroaches that travel.
"They (bedbugs) stay where a food source is at so infestations can get really nasty," Ly said. "They're there mainly to feed off of human blood."
He added bedbugs can be found in mattresses, behind headboards and sometimes hide behind picture frames.
"Majority of cases come from hotels and apartments because it's a constant food source," Ly said.
He said people can also bring bedbugs in off their clothes.
Ly said the best way to treat a bedbug infestation is professional pest care.
"The hardest thing is getting rid of the eggs as well," he said.
A lot of times people don't know they've been bitten by a bedbug because the bites are similar to mosquito bites.
Ly described bed bugs as the size of a watermelon seed. They are flat and grayish color, after they feed they're red.