Monday, January 30, 2006

Let’s Get Civical!

As mentioned in an earlier post, Brewer had introduced a bed bug related resolution in 2004 into the Council’s Health Committee (the reason it died in committee is unclear). Therefore, I’m guessing that this new legislation will also be sent to the Health Committee. Now the committee has to approve this legislation before it can be passed on to the full Council for vote, so it's very important that the committee approves the bed bug legislation or it will never be approved into law.

Here is a list of the Councilmembers who currently sit on the Health Committee and what part of New York City they represent.

  • Joel Rivera (committee chairperson) - Bathgate, Belmont, Crotona, Fordham, East Tremont, West Farms
  • Maria Baez - Fordham, Kingsbridge, Morris Heights, West Bronx
  • Yvette D. Clarke - Kensington, Prospect-Lefferts, Ditmas Park; parts of Crown Heights, Flatbush, East Flatbush
  • Maria del Carmen Arroyo - Bronx (site did not specify neighborhood)
  • Inez E. Dickens - Central Harlem; parts of Morningside Heights, Upper West Side, East Harlem
  • Helen D. Foster - West Bronx, Morrisania, South Bronx, Highbridge, Melrose
  • John C. Liu - Flushing, Queensboro Hill, Mitchell Gardens, Kissena Park, Harding Heights, Auburndale; part of Whitestone
  • Miguel Martinez - Parts of Washington Heights, Inwood, Marble Hill
  • Michael E. McMahon - Rosebank, Westerleigh, New Brighton, West Brighton, Mariners Harbor, Stapleton, St. George, Park Hill, Port Richmond, Clifton, Grymes Hill and Dongan Hills
  • Rosie Mendez - Lower East Side, East Village, Gramercy Park, Rosehill, Kips Bay; southern part of Murry Hill
  • Helen Sears - Parts of Jackson Heights, Elmhurst, East Elmhurst, Rego Park, Woodside, Corona
  • Kendall Stewart - Flatbush, East Flatbush, Flatlands
  • Albert Vann - Parts of Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights

You can have some influence on these committee members vote on the bed bug legislation by visiting the City Council web site and e-mailing as many Councilmembers as you’d like and politely urging them to support the bed bug legislation. You can have even more influence on a committee member if you live in the part of New York City that they represent. That means that member represents you, and he or she will pay more attention to what you have to say then someone who doesn’t live in their Council district. At the Council web site clicking on “Constituent Center” will allow you to enter your home address and find out which Councilmember represents you.

Tell them how this legislation will help you, tell them how much your life has been impacted because of bed bugs. Please, do not include any threats or profanity in your message. Do not ramble on, do not get too personal (translation: graphic) when describing your bed bug experience, and keep the subject towards the bed bug legislation. And as always, spell-check is highly recommended. The Health Committee is scheduled to meet February 15, so I’m guessing Brewer will have introduced the legislation by then. Let’s make sure the members walk into that meeting with your concerns in mind.

Good luck!

Brewer Update

Good news! After sending an e-mail to the office of Councilwoman Gale Brewer, I got a call today from her press secretary who has confirmed that Bugged Out has been added to the Councilwoman’s press contact list and will be receiving any and all press releases, media advisories and statements related to her pending bed bug legislation. I will of course keep you abreast of the dates of the Council public hearings on this legislation as the information is made available. I also plan to provide readers with testimony submitted during the public hearings as well as statements from various Councilmembers on this legislation.

I think it would be a great idea for readers to contact the Councilwoman at and support her plans for this legislation. Tell her how much her efforts mean to you and thousands of other New Yorkers.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Save Kitty!

I remember something my friend Joe told me a while back concerning his bed bug problem. As I mentioned in my first post, Joe’s cat was going nuts from being bitten by the bugs. The cat began acting crazy, attacking Joe to the point where he finally had to call the city to pick up the cat and put it to sleep. Even though bed bugs prefer human blood, they will feed off of any warm-blooded animal lying on the bed. Unfortunately, like many pet owners, Joe allowed his cat to sleep in bed with him. The ultimate result of Joe’s actions was very difficult for him to bear, as he saw his beloved black cat carried away in a net.

No wonder the cat went nuts; its little animal brain couldn’t possibly comprehend what the hell was happening to him. Between the bites, the welts and the possible itching, the cat must have lost all its marbles. The cat obviously couldn’t scratch the itchy bites. I know I would lose my mind if I had an itch I was unable to scratch. My heart goes out to my friend, because I know how much he loved that cat.

Joe always left his bedroom door open so the cat would always walk into the room and onto the bed after he was asleep. So remember, if you want your pet to not lose its mind and have to be put to sleep, once you realize you have bed bugs, do not allow your pet to be in your bedroom after dark and close the door to keep it from entering during the night.

R.I.P. “Sammy”
b. ? - 2005

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Let’s Get Graphic

A few readers have asked why Bugged Out does not feature images of bed bugs. One reader argued that people living with bed bugs need to see them in order to confront any fears of the insects and/or desensitize themselves to the sight of these parasites. While I do agree with that argument, I feel that since every other bed bug related site on the Web features image after magnified image of bed bugs, Bugged Out should be the one site that doesn’t feature such images.

Visitors to such websites should get some kind of warning that they are about to view some very graphic images of these creatures. Most people find insects disgusting, and I feel those sites have enough bed bug images on display that I do not need to post any images on Bugged Out. Besides, anyone living with bed bugs have probably seen what a bug bite looks like and what the insects themselves look like. But if someone still wishes to see pictures of bed bugs, they can see an ample array of photos on any of these sites in the Bed Bug Links list.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Councilwoman To Introduce Bed Bug Legislation

For those of you who still believe that bed bugs are exclusively a poor man's problem, here's some further evidence to the contrary. Gale Brewer, a City Councilmember who represents the Upper West Side plans to introduce some legislation into the City Council which if approved, would request the City ban the sale reconditioned mattresses and ban new mattresses from from being transported next to new ones. This is actually going to be a reintroduction of a resolution Councilwoman Brewer introduced in 2004.

Here is a link to the full text of the 2004 resolution, written in legalese. Right-click on the link to open it in a new window.

I will provide more information on Councilwoman Brewer's legislation as it becomes available.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Myth Bustin’ Part I

Let’s get a few exaggerations out of the way. The following are the most common misconceptions I’ve encountered concerning bed bugs.

Myth #1: Bed Bugs are highly contagious.

First off, for the most part, bed bugs almost always spread from one person to another via bags/luggage. You cannot get bed bugs by shaking one’s hand, kissing them, hugging them or being in the same room with them. Bed bugs do not have wings , so they cannot fly or jump from one person to another. As I stated in a previous post, you really can’t get bed bugs unless you are in the home, especially the bedroom of someone who has bed bugs. They are called bed bugs for a reason, because bed bugs live in the places where their human hosts sleep.

Myth #2: Bed Bugs spread disease and death.

According to every medical professional on the planet, no one has ever died from being bitten by a bed bug, and there are no diseases, viruses or illness that bed bugs have been known to carry. The reason why people are wary of bed bugs is because their bites itch and leave bumps on the skin that resemble mosquito bites. In some cases, some people may have different allergic reactions to bed bugs, ranging from mild itching to itches that linger for hours to even rashes.

Also, because of a person’s individual physiology, bed bugs may like to bite some people more than others. Adversely, there are some rare instances in which there are a small minority of people who bed bugs do not like to bite at all. Lucky bastards.

Fortunately for myself, my biological reaction to the bites isn’t that severe. It itches for a while, but after an hour the bumps and itching go away. The itching sensation can be reduced by buying prescription creams and ointments. There are several different products on the market and from what I’ve learned, all of them are quite effective. The cream really makes a difference.

The only constant downside of bed bugs is that they make it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. Because bed bugs hate the light, some people who have them often sleep with the lights on, which can make it hard to sleep for people who prefer or are accustomed to absolute or near-absolute darkness when sleeping.

If you need any further evidence of the relative harmlessness of bed bugs, I have a very logical reason why bed bugs do not spread disease. Unlike animals and insects that do, bed bugs do not feed off of dead animals or humans, bacteria, feces, urine or germs. They feed on YOU. A bed bug is basically as disease and bacteria-free as the person whose blood they are sucking. Though bed bugs have been known to feed on the blood of live animals, they very much prefer human blood.

Myth #3: Only people living in filth, poverty, substandard housing or who are from Third-World countries have bed bugs.

Bed Bugs are not maggots. They are not born from decaying carcasses or stale feces like maggots are. As I mentioned in the aforementioned paragraph, bed bugs consume the blood of live humans, not bacteria or germs or dead bodies of feces. And according to recent news reports, even the nicest hotels and homes are suffering from bed bugs. A plush limousine seats can have the same likelihood of having bed bugs as an upholstered seat of a city bus. If poor people can be connected to bed bugs in any way, it is mostly likely because poor people cannot afford to purchase the chemicals, special laundry detergent or throw away their linens and beds, all necessary actions to eradicate bed bugs.

I will offer more myths to dispel as I come across them. Feel free to add your own.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006


I never knew how ignorant people were about bed bugs or the stigma surrounding these insects until I visited my physician to get some prescription cream to ward off the bed bugs. The minute I tell the doctor that I got bed bugs from a friend's home, she rushes out of the examining room...for 20 minutes.

When the doctor returns she is wearing like some kind of biohazard suit, her face hidden behind a clear plastic veil and her body covered in the jumpsuit from head to toe. She then continues to ask me questions about the infestation and writes me a prescription in her little outfit. I found her little costume change to be overdramatic, insulting and a real exhibition of her personal ignorance. I'm not radioactive, and I'm not a leper. The only way she could've gotten bed bugs from me is if she comes to my home. And this is a person with a medical degree.

It was then that I realized how ignorant people could be of bed bugs. I also decided right there and then that I would mention my problem to as few people as possible. I don't want people pre-judging me because of bed bugs in my room. As a result, I am often reluctant to tell people that I have bed bugs. That is also why this blog can really help people who have bed bugs but are too embarassed to look for support in the offline world. This blog really facilitates anonymity, and I hope people use it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

My Story

Let me explain how bed bugs came into my life.

It all started with my friend Joe. He lives in kind of a slummy apartment building in Jamaica, Queens. Joe's not actually the source of the bugs, it's the family who live in the apartment above him. Not to stereotype but the family is of Middle Eastern descent, and I'm only saying that because the rise in bed bug infestations in New York City is directly related to the increase of international travel.

The bugs crawled downstairs into my buddy's apartment and he had to get rid of his bed and throw out a lot of stuff that was cluttering up his bedroom. Joe had to wash all his clothes with some expensive special laundry detergent and cover himself from head to toe with some prescription cream.

About three months ago, he said the bed bug problem was under control after his landlord sprayed some chemicals and sealed up big cracks in the apartment walls. Like an idiot, I saw no problem coming over when he invited me.

But after the third visit I began to itch in his living room. I figured it was a mosquito bite because a whitish bump had formed on my arm. Little did I know that the bugs would follow me home, either on my clothing or my bag.

Soon I began waking up in the middle of the night itching like crazy. There were little red stains on my bed sheets and pillow cases. The next night I actually saw one of the bugs...on my arm. Ewwwww.

I don't have the heart to tell my friend of six years that visiting him gave me bed bugs. I looked up bed bugs on the Internet and remembered some of the shit he told me about the bed bugs, the symptoms of the bites and how to deal with them. The bugs were even biting his cat, and the cat as a result was going crazy, viciously attacking my friend and any other people visiting until he finally called the City and they picked up the cat and put it to sleep.

I have to keep the light on at night if the biting gets real bad. They hate the light and only come out of their hiding places when the room is dark. Now when I wake up from being bitten continuously, I do a quick inspection of my sheets and pillows, pick up any bugs I find (and I usually find a few) with a wad of tissue and flush the tissues down the toilet.

On the bright side, the itching and the bumps do go away after a few minutes. I've heard of cases where people develop very bad allergic reactions to bed bug bites.

Now that I've told my background story, I invite readers to add their own tales of bed buggery.