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ILLINOIS NEWS NETWORK
One Illinois region is not sleeping tight as a plague of bed bugs continues to bite.
The Springfield-Decatur-Champaign area ranked 30th on Orkins most recent "Top 50 Bed Bug Cities" list, which tracks where the pest control company conducts the most bed bug treatments. The region jumped 12 spots from last years list.
Kathy Wade, director of environmental health at Macon Health Department, couldn't say why the small, flat, brown bugs invaded the area, but noted they have been a growing problem all over the country.
At this point, it is widespread, Wade said. "They're being found everywhere, whether in an apartment, private residence high-rise, hotels motels they're being found everywhere. So, it's not just an isolated incident.
Wade said the problem is being compounded because some people are not reporting bed bugs to their landlords or are trying to deal with them on their own.
There's also this horrible stigma attached with bed bugs that your house is dirty, and that's why you have one, Wade said. The thing about bed bugs is they don't care who you are; they don't care if you're wealthy or poor ... they're just going to come wherever they can.
The best way to eradicate bed bugs is to use a professional exterminator, who often deploys a series of treatments that can cost several hundred dollars, which Wade said could be too much for some residents. Unfortunately, the health department does not receive outside funding to deal with bed bugs.
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Bed bugs are not carriers of any communicable disease, so I think due to that factor, [it] is why you see that there is no funding within the state of Illinois for this, Wade said.
Despite not receiving any outside funding, Wade and her department decided to take actions because they continued to get calls. Wade started the Bed Bug Coalition in late 2016, made up of business owners, organizational representatives and community members who meet monthly to discuss the bed-bug problem.
It's really turned out to be a great community effort for Decatur and Macon County, Wade said. Our last bed bug coalition meeting, we had landlords, we had thrifts shops coming, some of the [homeless] shelters, and every month the coalition grows.
The coalition produced two pamphlets about bed bugs and prevention methods and is planning a public information forum.
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