Bedbugs. The American public has finally woke up to the threat.

Is the threat of bedbugs a public health threat? I am not going to go that far. We are not going to die from bedbug infestations. Without overblowing the threat, I will say that we face a serious "quality of life" issue. With bedbugs, life is going to be either (take your pick) a whole lot less enjoyable or a whole lot more miserable.

What do I suggest we do? When I first became aware of this threat about a year ago, reports were that exterminators were able to deal with the problem. Now I hear that some who have become infested with bedbugs in their homes have spent sums as large as $20,000 to eradicate them and these expensive efforts have been unsuccessful.

Seems we need to do something new (or old). What eliminated this pest from our society in the past? It was DDT. We need to break out the DDT as soon as possible for the greater good of society. The sooner we break out the DDT and eliminate this threat the lesser will be the harm to the world's environment. As the threat of bedbugs spreads, and greater and greater segments of society are forced to "live with" this pest, the greater will be the demand to combat this pest with something we know works.

We can either break out the DDT now, and minimize the impact on the environment, or sit on our hands and wait until the majority of society is infested and demands the use of DDT.

If a safer pesticide that works on bedbugs is not quickly identified, we are going to eventually break out the DDT anyway once enough people are affected.

Let us break out the DDT now while we can limit the impact on the environment. If we act now, we can nip this problem in the bud. Every day wasted is a day when the infestation spreads. My wife and I have already cancelled travel plans because the area we were going to travel to is infested with bedbugs.

For just how the bedbug infestation is going to spread look at how West Nile spread. However West Nile spread by wild birds, and bedbugs are going to be spread by businessmen.

We need to break out the DDT. Perhaps our government can offer chemical companies a bounty for coming up with something that is as effective as DDT without as being as harmful to the environment. But in the meantime every day that goes by is a day that is lost. Eventually bedbugs are going to infest nearly every household in America and the public is going to demand (by majority vote) that action be taken.

I suggest we break out the DDT in the short term while we work on safer alternatives for the long term. My own guess is that safer pesticides will kill bedbugs. The problem is persistence. All the safer alternatives do not persist long enough to kill the bedbugs that escape direct application.

While we wait for safer alternatives let's break out what we know works. Let's break out the DDT and exterminate the suckers.


Blogger Michael said...

I'm not entirely sure that DDT is needed. Nor are the reckless "spraying insecticide down the neighbourhood street off the back of a truck" policies, IMHO anyway.

Interestingly enough, the increased usage of second hand furniture is probably in part contributing to the problem.

I treated a man the other week who was living in a hostel who had the unfortunate chance of being in a room infested by bed bugs. Ouch...

Michael Tam
vitualis' Medical Rants

4/06/2006 05:38:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

Recently one of America's major television networks ran a piece on the bedbug infestation. I did not get a chance to see it, but my wife did and told me about it. I personally had become aware of the problem about a year ago, I think from a piece on NPR.

According to my wife, bedbug infestations are not limited to seedy motels. One woman brought them home after spending a night or two at a five star hotel. Once you get them in your home, the only way to get rid of them for sure (absent the DDT) is to light a match and walk away as your home burns down. You dare not even pack up any of your belongings or you'll be packing up the bedbugs also, and moving them too into your new home.

According to reports, what eliminated bedbugs from our society in the past was DDT. We know DDT works. Nothing else has proven itself to be as effective as DDT.

I say we break out the DDT. If we are unwilling to do this, I recommend everyone disinvest themselves from stock in the hospitality industry. My wife and I have already cancelled travel plans because of the threat of bringing bedbugs back home with us.

4/06/2006 07:27:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

Yes, DDT is probably what killed the bedbugs.

However, there are newer pesticides that work and work well. I don't work in the field and DDT may well be "the best", but considering that many locations with bed bugs have successfully eradicated it without DDT, I think that it may just be a little bit hysterical to believe that DDT is the only thing that can "save" us.

Certainly, used on a large scale, DDT is the cheapest agent, but it is also toxic to any number of animals. There is no convincing data that it causes cancer in humans, but there is anecdotal evidence. In any case, it is unlikely that anyone will be reversing the ban on the use of DDT any time soon.

Michael Tam

4/07/2006 02:03:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

I did not get to see what was reported on as happening first hand. I only can comment on what my wife reported on as happening.

Some people have reported spending sums as large as $20,000 to unsuccessfully exterminate bedbug infestations in their home.

The bedbug infestation, in a years time, has spread even with large scale attempts within the hospitality industry to combat the spread. People report carrying bedbugs home after stays in five star hotels.

Evidently "newer pesticides" are not as effective as DDT. I would imagine (though I am not a professional exterminator) that the problem is lack of persistence.

If the pest control industry can not come up with a method of controlling this pest without having to endure repeated applications of less effective agents at great expense I think the infestations are going to spread. I think once it has spread far enough, unless the pest control industry finally comes up with something effective, the majority of society is going to demand the use of DDT.

While I am aware that DDT poses a threat to the environment with large scale use, I think the sooner we start using it, the less we will have to use it, and the lesser will be the impact on the environment.

You stated: "In any case, it is unlikely that anyone will be reversing the ban on the use of DDT any time soon." My reply is: Oh really? Try telling that to those already infested. As the infestation continues to spread, as more and more of society suffers from this, the calls to break out the DDT are going to become more numerous and louder.

Even if some people have successfully eradicated bed bug infestations, this is being done at great expense, and there is no guarantee you will not be reinfested again at a later date and have to repeat the process, again at considerable expense.

I still say "Break out the DDT", and I do not think I am being hysterical in calling for its use.

4/07/2006 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

DDT usage is banned by international treaty.

A bedbug infestation issue is not going to crack it.

Now, if the US and Western Europe faced a malaria (or some other arthropod born infection) outbreak, things would be different.

Michael Tam

4/08/2006 12:14:00 AM  
Blogger Little David said...

I am aware of the international treaty.

However unless the chemical/pest control industry comes up with something at least nearly as effective, I think society is going to demand the use of DDT anyway.

If the outlook for something effective is grim, then we should break out the DDT sooner rather then later. The sooner we start using it, the less we will have to use.

My fear is that the chemical industry has no honest motivation to come up with something effective in the short term. If their motivation is profits, they will be motivated to wait with releasing anything effective into the market until most of society is infested.

4/08/2006 07:55:00 AM  

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