bed bug fears fire and panic

Bed Bug Fears Fire and Panic

According to a just-released report by the Ombudsman, bed bugs can not only be the cause of rashes and scratching, they can also slow down the city’s response to emergencies. A report that was just published as part of an inquiry on the response to Sept. 24, 2010, at a high-rise fire at 200 Wellesley St. The reason for the inquiry was that the fear of the spread of bed bugs to hotels that would house the people affected by the fire and need to be relocated. The transfer of the affected individuals was flagged by public health officials to hotels.

In a nutshell, the report states that due to misinformation regarding the bed bug issue, a clear knowledge of the specificities of the potential properties and misconceptions regarding the bed bug issue, lead to this pest control problem.

Public Information

The popular site where users can visit and log their bed bug problems has a very elaborate list of the bed bug cases for that property. While the registry provides a good idea to which properties are suspected to be infested by their users, this information is not cross-checked and referenced. As a result, speculation and potentially misinformation spreads faster than any infestation can. The public does not have any credible city-based source to confirm a bed bug infestation and relies only on user-generated information which is not always credible.

What heated tensions, even more, was that officials consulted on the matter had limited information at the time.

The fact that the specific property is one of Public Health’s pilot projects against bed bugs intensified speculations regarding potential infestations and transfers.


The article by the Toronto Star

Toronto Public Health Resource on Bed Bugs

The actual Ombudsman Report

Exterminating Bed Bugs