Lexington Public Housing Complex Bedbug Infested

LEXINGTON, KY -- Bedbugs live in more than a quarter of the units of a public housing apartment complex in downtown Lexington, reports the Lexington Herald-Leader in its Saturday edition.

There are even bedbugs in the lobbies, said Fayette County health department inspectors who examined the buildings, which are designated for those 55 and older, earlier this month.

As a result, the Lexington-Fayette Urban County Housing Authority plans to treat all 317 apartments in Ballard-Griffith Towers in an attempt to get bedbugs under control, the Herald Leader reports.

The move can't come soon enough for Teddi Smith-Robillard, who has been battling bedbugs since March in the complex off West Second Street in downtown Lexington.

Smith-Robillard, who is president of the buildings' resident council, has thrown out two mattress sets and gotten rid of all her upholstered furniture, except a chair that belonged to her mother. "I've thrown out so much stuff, it's pitiful," she told the Herald-Leader.

She now sleeps sitting up on a straight-back, wooden chair, her feet propped on another. She tried sleeping on the floor, but the bedbugs got her there as well.

Bedbugs are small, flat, brownish insects that eat blood. They don't transmit disease, but their bites itch and annoy. Before World War II, bedbug problems were common in the United States. But the use of DDT, a pesticide now banned in this country, made the bugs rare, reports the newspaper.

However, bedbugs have made a comeback in recent years, and they are notoriously difficult to eliminate. Success takes a coordinated effort by pest control companies and residents, who have to bag and wash clothing; move furniture away from walls; and discard furniture that is too infested to be treated.

"If a total elimination or near total elimination isn't achieved, it doesn't take long for a reinfestation to occur," said Luke Mathis, an environmental health team leader at the health department, the newspaper reports.

Treating the apartment buildings will cost $30,000 to $50,000, said Austin Simms, executive director of the Housing Authority. The buildings will be treated with chemicals at least twice and possibly three times. "We're going to do everything we can," Simms told the Lexington Herald-Leader.

Copyright - The Lexington Herald-Leader

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