Berrien County assembles bed bug task forcePublished 11:13pm Thursday, February 10, 2011
By KATIE ROHMAN
Niles Daily Star
ST. JOSEPH — The Berrien County Health Department has assembled a task force to tackle a very unpleasant pest: bed bugs.
Sixth District Commissioner Jeanette Leahey, a member of the personnel and human services committee, said pest control services, schools and hotels are being asked to sit on the task force, which will address the issue — a continuing nationwide problem.
“It’s all-inclusive,” Leahey told the county board Thursday. “If you go to an athletic club, be careful of your bag. If your kids go to school, be careful of their backpacks.”
The Berrien County Health Department reported to the Star in October that because the pests don’t pose a significant health risk, its involvement was minimal.
“We haven’t had a lot, but in past years we haven’t had any,” Gary Witkowski, environmental services manager of BCHS, said of calls regarding bed bugs.
Rose Pest Solutions of Niles told the Star in October that the company was handling a skyrocketing number of bed bug exterminations, particularly those at apartment complexes.
Bed bugs are small, brown insects about one-eighth of an inch long. They are active at night and can usually be seen along the seams of mattresses. They feed on blood.
Bed bug infections may cause itchy bite reactions and anxiety. According to the Michigan Bed Bug Working Group, signs of a bed bug infestation include insect bites, usually three or four in a straight line or grouped together. Arms, legs and the back are the most susceptible to bites.
Also look for small, black stains — ”blood spots” — on sheets, pillows and mattress seams. The bugs also hide in furniture.
Bed bugs are usually brought into homes via suitcases, handbags, clothing and used mattresses. They can even travel between apartment units.
For more information, contact the Berrien County Health Department (269) 927-5623 or visit www.michigan/gov/emergingdiseases.