Multnomah County Public health hosted second bed bug forum this morning. Representatives from various housing organizations, more pest companies and the City Council participated. I think this dreadful problem is gaining traction. Some of the priorities the group came up with were:
Listing bed bugs as a vector. A vector is most frequently described as; (thanks Dictionary.com)
an insect or other organism that transmits a pathogenic fungus, virus, bacterium, etc,
any agent that acts as a carrier or transporter, as a virus or plasmid that conveys a genetically engineered DNA segment into a host cell.
Since bed bugs were virtually unheard of in the last 40 years, current science has not demonstrated bed bugs to transmit disease, but are known carriers of several. Since bed bugs can and do bite many individuals and only eat blood, preferably human, science may discover they may transmit disease, but that’s not been demonstrated, yet.
Classifying bed bugs as a vector at the State level (like rats and blackberries) will provide a legal framework to enforce eradication by landlords.
Other areas participants deemed important is public education. I couldn’t agree more on this one, as many people either don’t know they are actually real, or have heard of bed bugs, but don’t know anything about them, including how to identify one if you saw one on your pillow. See, I’m raising my hand.
Establishing a dedicated telephone hot line with Public Health to assist in tracking, public policy and best practices were other concerns the group saw as priorities.
Thanks Multnomah Public Health for taking a leadership role in helping to deal with what I fear next year will be a tsunami of bed bug outbreaks in the Northwest.