JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Hi, everybody. Thank you for being here. This is such an interesting topic, and the media has been really on top of this this summer, partly because, I think, bed bugs are starting to show up in that commercial sector now, in retail stores and movie theaters. So it's become a hot topic finally.
I've been working for the Cornell University for 11 years in the New York State Integrated Pest Management Program, and pretty much when I first started working there, bed bugs appeared on the scene. And the first case that I saw was actually a very wealthy home in Nassau County and the house-- the woman's child had been at some kind of a camp and his bedroom was fairly infested with bed bugs. And back then, nobody knew anything about bed bugs. We really hadn't thought about them. And the woman didn't freak out. She didn't have a heart attack about it. They just solved the problem.
And nowadays, as you know, bed bugs have become incredibly difficult to deal with and much more widespread than we ever imagined they would. Back in 2000 or 2001, people said-- the pest control industry said this is just a nuisance pest. So in the 10 years that I've been working on bed bugs, I've watched the population, so to speak, grow. I've seen so many more issues as the years go by, and I was part of New York City's response to bed bugs, which was that they created the New York City Bed Bug Advisory Board. It's often called the task force, but it really is an advisory board. It met for a finite amount of time, and we came up with some recommendations for New York City's next steps to address bed bugs.
So what I'm going to do today is go through some slides that I have behind me. And it's very basic, and lead off with where we're going with this, because I you'll have questions about just about every aspect of bed bugs.
So this is a billboard, somewhere near here, in Times Square, I believe. And it's true. Bed bugs do suck. But what are they? I frequently still get this question. What are bed bugs? They are insects. They are a group of insects in the family Cimicidae, and all the Cimicidae, Cimicids do the same thing. They feed on blood. They have no wings. They look fairly similar, and they are very closely related to insects that feed on plants, such as aphids and cicadas. They have the same mouth parts or stink bugs. So they really have just switched their adaptation to blood meals and have become-- actually, most of them feed on bats and birds. We have one species really that feeds on people.
This is hard to see here, but bed bugs-- this is an adult bed bug here. That's a sesame seed, poppy seed, and that's a young bed bug. They're visible. The myth that I see a lot is that bed bugs are invisible. They are only invisible because of the way they hide, but you can see here that they are large enough to be seen with the naked eye.
This is often the first sign that people will see. I'm sort of reiterating because all these pieces of information are out there already, but the small fecal spots that bed bugs leave behind are-- they're a telltale sign.
And bed bugs feed only on blood, the same way mosquitoes do. This is another picture. It's a little hard to see, but there's a stylet here, where they feed on blood and their mouth parts are pushed back, and they feed like mosquitoes do.
OK, they don't carry disease, but we're starting to recognize that they have long-term health effects and negative health effects. And the long-term health effects tend to be with anxiety, depression, fatigue, and the financial losses and all the stress that go along with those things. That's mental health. Mental health is definitely a part of physical health and although someone may end up with scars or a skin infection, the mental health issue is much more widespread than we have acknowledged to this point.
Rarely, they cause asthma. Well, they trigger asthma and cause anemia. And we have seen in modern days, severe cases of bed bugs that have resulted in an anemic patient.
Now, these are just some of the little places where you might find bed bugs, some examples of where they hide. This is the screw hole underneath an office chair, in fact. So it's plastic and metal. The myth is that they don't like plastic or metal but they do. This is the tab of a dictionary. You can't really see it that well, but there are bed bugs hiding in that tab of the dictionary. This is obviously, just a screw underneath a piece of wooden furniture, and the other picture is part of a headboard.
The biggest question I get is why? Why are bed bugs back? What has made them come back? And people have all sorts of theories, and they bounce their theories off me. The truth is, we're not quite sure the real exact reason. We have a lot of ideas. There have been most definitely changes in other types of pest management. We don't use sprays as often for cockroaches and ants, particularly in the home. This is what's called integrated pest management. We have moved to the reliance on baits and other kinds of measures to deal with cockroaches and ants, which are two of the most common household pests.
And other types of insecticides have been banned. We have taken a lot of things off the market, ironically about 10 years ago. So there's a theory, that some of the other pesticides that were taken off the market because of children's health may have been keeping bed bugs under control for this time.
There is certainly a lack of knowledge and experience of dealing with bed bugs. We're on a learning curve, and this year, I think, the curve soared because of the media's interest in bed bugs, finally and the public's interest. You know, if you go into Victoria's Secret and you're concerned that you might have a bed bug somewhere in that lingerie, you're not going to go buy it. So it's a real press relations or public relations nightmare for companies, for hotels, for movie theaters. And people lack the experience, and they also have a lot of fear of this pest.
There's been, so far, a lack of government involvement. New York City only took this issue on in-- well, this report is dated April 2010. So in 2009, they realized that they had to do something.
There's the idea that bed bugs never actually disappeared. We know that they have always been a problem in chickens or poultry operations, which usually makes people smile. Really? But one of the things that bed bugs can feed on and thrive on, aside from humans, is chickens. So in poultry, in egg laying farms, we do see bed bugs as one of the minor pests but certainly one of the pests, and they may have been in the United States all along.
And bottom line is that bed bugs are taboo. Nobody wants to talk about them. Nobody wants to admit if they have them, and we are trying to break that taboo. I think the media has done a fine job breaking the taboo by talking about it, simply talking about it. There are blogs out there about bed bugs. There are support groups out there with thousands of members about how do I do this? How do I get rid of bed bugs? So the taboo is starting to melt away.
This is one simple graph, I guess, of the number of complaints that have come into the New York City Housing Preservation and Development-- well, the 311 line that got routed to HPD. And this isn't even the most recent information. 2009 had something like 20,000. I'm not exactly sure but even more, even more bed bug complaints, more violations, and you can see that it's gone up steadily every year.
So unless the pathways in which bed bugs are traveling through our communities and through the United States and around the world, really, unless these pathways are understood and really prevented, we're not going to be able to get rid of this problem. In addition to that, we don't have any type of insecticide or one method that works really well for bed bugs. We have to combine pest control techniques in order to deal with them the best. And that is the crux of integrated pest management, where you don't rely on pesticides or any one thing. You combine the right things to combat the pest. And every bed bug situation is really different. It's a case by case basis.
The reality today is that bed bugs are showing up in schools. They are in child care facilities. They are in taxis and movie theaters and hospitals, nursing homes, and just about everywhere where there are people. Retail stores, offices-- the retail store phenomenon, to me, it seems that because offices are becoming, not infested-- bed bugs are showing up in the workplace. And to me, in the retail sector, it's probably a result of bed bugs showing up in the workplace. In other words, the employees are probably dealing with this at home and bringing it in, and it's less of a consumer's issue, more of an employees' issue. But that's just my guess.
And 2010 has been the year of the bed bug in the workplace. There have been so many reports from the Empire State Building down the block to Clinton's office, which actually was last year. Ralph Lauren's office, CNN, Time Warner building, one of the studios there, and a whole host of different places.
Do they reproduce in these places? That's a really good question. We don't know for sure because what they like is when people settle down and are quiet. They don't necessarily need darkness, but they will come and bite you in a movie theater because you're sitting there for two hours and it is dark. But people have been bitten in their offices. So bed bugs are just opportunistic. Will they reproduce? To some extent, I believe they will. Will they thrive in offices? I really don't think that they'll thrive in these locations. But still it's great concern. It's of great concern to the public and to people who work in these places. Just a little picture of bed bugs.
Prevention is education. Everyone should know what bed bugs look like. Part of the reason that I do what I do is to help people understand what be bugs look like. I have a great little tool here. This is a traveler's card. We thought of this because travelers were among the first people affected by bed bugs. And what this is, is four different wallet-sized cards that fold over and go in your wallet and allow you-- it's a tool that you take with you in case that you do travel, to know what to look for and how to find it. There's one for a college student. There's one for a traveler, and there are two general ones. So I'm going to hand these out to everybody. This is our attempt to get as many people as possible to understand what bed bugs look like to get on board with this.
Used furniture is one of the biggest avenues, we think, especially in New York City. People are always looking for great stuff on the curb. I lived in New York City. We found great stuff on the curb. And these days you can't. You cannot do that because a lot of the really great stuff is out there as a result of bed bugs.
So where are we headed with all this? In the past, the first cities that took bed bugs on as an issue were Toronto and then several cities in Ohio. For some reason, Ohio has four cities on the top 20 list for bed bug infestation. And so Toronto has the Bed Bug Project. Ohio has a Central Ohio Task Force and a Cincinnati-Hamilton County Task Force. They had lots and lots of complaints, but they responded right away to it and to be proactive.
Recently, New York City with the announcement of these recommendations and their press release, New York City's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has repurposed $500,000 from other parts of their budget to deal with bed bugs, and we're grateful to the city, to the Commissioner of the Health Department because it's a start. $500,000 is not going to go very far but for the development of a bed bug portal, it will at least standardize all the bed bug information that is available, especially to the agencies. Almost every agency of New York City's government is dealing with bed bugs. That's including emergency services and consumer affairs and social services and the health services and every other aspect. They're all dealing with it.
The EPA and the CDC recently announced-- made a joint statement-- that bed bugs are a pest of significant public health importance. This was one of the most important announcements that came out since this problem started because it's providing an avenue for some funding. Again, EPA has provided $550,000, not that much money but it's a start. And recognizing this as a public health pest has been a difficult thing to achieve. We do recognize, those of us who work with bed bugs, that it is a public health pest, but the powers that be who don't have the money to deal with it have been reluctant to recognize it that way. So we are very grateful to see that there's money available finally.
I mentioned the Bed Bug Advisory Board. It was created by legislation to guide New York City through the process of taking the next steps for bed bugs. In addition, I'm part of a Nassau County Bed Bug Task Force because this is not just a city issue. This is not a New York City and a Cincinnati and Cleveland and Toronto issue. This happens in the suburbs, and it's not spreading from the city. It is simultaneously occurring in the suburbs as well. Some parts of Nassau County-- it's one of the most wealthy counties. It's the number two wealthy county in the state, and there are some parts of it with buildings that are 50% infested. So the task force that I work with is unique because it was started by the District Attorney's office and addresses the quality of life-- bed bugs as a quality of life issue.
This is where, perhaps, we're going to become innovative in dealing with bed bugs because it's related to a lot of different things, not just health. It is quality of life. It does affect people's socioeconomic status because it costs so much to get rid of.
OK, so where are we headed? People ask me all the time, what's the best way to get rid of bed bugs, or what are they going to do about it? And something that came up recently was to re-register an old pesticide. I hear the cry to bring back DDT all the time. An old pesticide, which is actually still currently available is Propoxur but the EPA denied this request and Ohio, the state of Ohio, made this request because there are significant health risks to people and especially to children. And the EPA did not want to see the misuse and mishandling of this pesticide and overuse of it around children.
Can we discover new pesticides? It does take a lot of money and a lot of effort to discover new pesticides, but there are several candidates out there that we use for other things, such as for flea and tick purposes. And those have been tested and they work reasonably well. So there may be a process where those become available for bed bug control.
Another piece of research that came out this week or last week for bed bugs out of Sweden is this thing called an anti-aphrodisiac pheromone. It's a really neat phenomenon that happens. bed bugs indiscriminately try to mate with anyone around them or any of the other bed bugs around them. And there is an alarm pheromone that the females and the juveniles secrete to say, hey-- I mean, the other males and the juveniles secret that say, not me. I'm not who you want. So the males will move on.
And if you're not familiar with bed bug reproduction, they have a style of reproduction called traumatic insemination. And that is literally where the male stabs the female in the side of her body and injects a sperm packet. So this does have a fitness cost. The females often get injured, but if a male does that to another male, that other male might die and if a male does it to a juvenile bed bug the juvenile bed bug might die. So it's in their interest to say, hey-- have a way to say back off. And this may be something where we twist bed bug biology to control them, if we can spray this out there, perhaps? So these kinds of little discoveries are probably the future of bed bug control, where we can take advantage of their vulnerabilities.
Educating the public is probably the most important thing. We started a bed bug campaign in the city of Baltimore, just a pilot thing, where we put bed bugs on the buses, on the sides of buses and got bugs. And the response was kind of mild. It wasn't great, but I think people are recognizing in greater numbers that bed bugs are an issue, and I attribute a lot of that really just to the media's coverage of this issue.
Otherwise, there is really no great solution in sight. Cooperation, education, awareness, prevention, those are the things that work the best to control bed bugs. There's no silver bullet.
And that's all I have. And I know there will be a ton of questions. What I want to say is that I do have some live bed bugs here if anyone wants to-- a lot of ew, ew. Don't get itchy. If anyone wants to see them, they are here. They're live and they're pretty active. I also have these traveler's cards to hand out. I have one male and two females. Don't take the lid off? Well, you can't see them through it.
SPEAKER 1: How long can they survive in that?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: In here? If they had a really ideal environment with plenty of moisture, they could survive up to a year, even more. But in here, they might be deprived of moisture and they might not last as long. So I've had them in Ziploc bags, and somehow, Ziploc bags just kill bed bugs. I don't know why we don't use this as a tool to kill-- Sir?
SPEAKER 2: Yeah, a lot of apartment buildings in New York have exterminators that come in regularly. What can they do? I mean, is there any weapons or tools? You haven't suggested anything that really works. So I'm not sure.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: So what can exterminators do or landlords do?
SPEAKER 2: Well, both. I mean, what--
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Yes, well, that's part of the issue. Without the tenants cooperation-- and that is one of the most difficult things to achieve-- it may not be solved. If an apartment building is 30% infested, it often means that the bed bugs have gone into the walls and have traveled from apartment to apartment. And when it becomes endemic like that, it's extremely difficult to deal with. You may need to use a whole building treatment or a heat treatment to kill them, but there is no one pesticide that works well. And that's why we're here today.
SPEAKER 2: There's really nothing, then.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: There is. There's a lot of things, but that is they have to do a lot of things. They have to encourage everybody to reduce the clutter in their home and to clean like they've never cleaned before. And then using pesticides and using heat and all these varieties of tools we have out there, none of which works 100%. Ma'am?
SPEAKER 3: Ecologically speaking, how do bed bugs fit in? And also, a lot of these pesticides we use, I understand-- and I put this sort of with a question mark because I don't quite all understand it-- have helped to get rid of bees, which are so essential to our lives, our substance. So I'm kind of curious, one, how ecologically bed bugs fit into our lives? And two, what do these pesticides do?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: OK, well, ecologically, we believe that bed bugs have evolved from bugs that fed on bats. Bats and birds and humans all occupy, or had occupied, still, probably, places that of shelter, such as caves. So the bed bug and the bat bug are very closely related. They look very similar except for the length of some hairs. Ecologically--
SPEAKER 3: Excuse me, bed bugs and what are similar?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Oh, bat bugs.
SPEAKER 3: Oh, bat bugs.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Right, there are several species of blood-feeding bugs, true bugs, that feed on bats. And if you watch Discovery Channel, you might see documentaries about this. It's pretty interesting. So we know that-- we believe that bed bugs evolved from the bat bug a long time ago and simply traveled with humans all along.
How this group of insects started to feed on blood is probably simple enough as they had fed on plants and accidentally started feeding on blood because that was what was available and it became a much more nutritious food source.
So and the second part of your question about the pesticides, there are pesticides that are used outdoors that we suspect are affecting the honey bees, but what we use indoors for bed bugs is really not the same group. So a group of-- it's somewhat similar, but when we use pesticides indoors for bed bugs, we really don't have an effect on the outdoors.
SPEAKER 4: You mentioned heat. I hadn't heard that before. How does that-- is it heating up the area? Putting something in the dryer?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Yeah, both. The dryer is your best friend if you have bed bugs. All the things that you own that are soft that can go in the dryer, can be tumbled right there, as long as it's hot enough to kill the bed bugs, which is 120 degrees or better.
And there are the whole apartment or whole house heat treatments, where a crew of workers come in with heating units, which look like small refrigerators or something, and lots of fans, and they heat the entire structure and all the contents up to about 135 degrees. And every little crevice, at least, has to get up to 135 as well. Held for six hours, that makes it impossible for bed bugs to survive. Even the eggs are killed under those conditions.
SPEAKER 2: How big an area could they heat?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: I was in a building yesterday which housed 12 people, a large house, basically. And this company was able to bring in a second crew and treat that whole structure. Could they treat an entire building in New York City? It would be hard.
SPEAKER 2: Could they do it floor by floor? Would that work?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Yeah, that's how they usually approach it if they do the heat treatment in a larger building. Sir?
SPEAKER 1: The two of us represent motel publications. Motels seem particularly vulnerable because people come in every night and sleep in the bed. Because their called bed bugs, a lot of people assume it's related to the bed. As I understand it now, it's not the case.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: It's not the case when people first bring a bed bug home-- you know, if you're unlucky enough to bring one home in your luggage, the first place that bed bug will find harbor is wherever you are. So if you sleep on the couch, that's where the bed bug will be. But as the population starts to grow, they can go hide behind the headboard. They can hide in the baseboard moldings. They will hide just about anywhere, as long as they can get to you and they can sense your heat and your presence really.
So one of the most unsolvable cases that I heard about was a remote control, the battery compartment, was where the bed bugs-- the little holdout population was. Just a few of them, but they couldn't solve this population. They finally found them in the remote control.
SPEAKER 1: So is there anything hotel owners or managers can do particularly, given that someone new is checking in every night and maybe bringing the problem with them?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: I don't think there's anything that hotels can do to prevent travelers from bringing them, but we always recommend that hotels train their staff to be the first eyes, to know what to look for. Know the signs of bed bugs. Because if a bed bug has fed, it will undoubtedly have to to excrete that blood meal, and you'll find the classic stains, little blood spots. So if your staff are trained to notice that, they will be the early detection system.
SPEAKER 5: Even with the training hotel staff, things like your bed bug traveler cards, people are going to be looking for them in many ways. I've heard stories of people trying to remove headboards, maybe even cause damage. What are-- from a hotelier's perspective, not just that people might be ruining their property, but what are safe ways for people to look for them and [INAUDIBLE].
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: When I travel, I don't go as far as to take the headboard off, but what I do is immediately when I get into the hotel room, I put my luggage by the door or somewhere in the bathroom and I inspect the entire bed. So I don't want to be damaging and I certainly wouldn't pull anything off the walls, but the first place that I look is around the mattress seams, between the mattress and the box spring, and usually where the box spring sits on the frame. I look in those spots for the fecal matter, and I often do a quick look at the side table, under the lamp, and things like that.
So the story about the headboard, I do have a good story. A friend of mine, who is in pest control, went to a hotel, and he just had a feeling that there were bed bugs in his hotel room. He just couldn't settle down until he had found them. So he did take the headboard off, and he found bed bugs behind the headboard. Whereas the rest of the room was really immaculate, he did find them there. So often that's usually-- that can be where they are, even though they've been treated.
SPEAKER 1: Fecal matter is what you described?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Yeah, the spots.
SPEAKER 9: So to kind of piggyback on what she said, is there any kind of preventative maintenance that hoteliers, landlords, apartment people can employ to help at least somehow control this, as we do have a lot of people that move in and move out on a constant basis.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: One of the easiest ways to do an inspection is to hire a bed bug sniffing dog. There are standards now in the industry that guide how they're trained and how they're used. So I would definitely follow those kinds of standards, find a company that follows those standards. But bed bug sniffing dogs are great for large areas or frequent inspections.
SPEAKER 6: Now, what if you do find bed bugs and you hire an exterminator to exterminate that area where you found them, how far out should you go?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: It depends. If the dog hits on one spot, probably that spot is the only place that needs to be treated. If the dog hits on a few different spots in a room, you might, of course, treat the whole room, and close it. If it were a hotel room, I would certainly close that until it was cleared by--
SPEAKER 4: Just that room?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: It depends. I mean if you have--
SPEAKER 6: Up and down, side by side?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Right. Inspection is definitely recommended. If you have multiple spots in one room, you go one unit up, down, in every direction, just to be absolutely sure.
SPEAKER 7: I have a question more from the consumer's point of view and that is [INAUDIBLE] How can you minimize the risk that you bring them home. [INAUDIBLE] friends over and one's been sitting on a park bench-- first of all, how transmissible are they, really? And second of all, how can we minimize the chance of [INAUDIBLE] or can we find it. If you've never had a bed bug inspection on you premises, how can you find out if bed bugs [INAUDIBLE]?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: How can you avoid bringing bed bugs home? I don't know if there's one effective way to do that because it could happen in this room. It could happen anywhere, really. I don't want to scare people, but it could happen anywhere. And the best remedy for that is to know what they look like. And only if you bring home a-- and you can look at these-- an adult female, that's the only one's that's going to start an infestation in your home is an adult female. She's very visible. So if you know what to look for and inspect yourself on a frequent basis-- also paying attention to bites. If it's December and I got a mosquito bite, that's a little strange. I would suspect perhaps a bed bug instead. But knowledge, just super awareness, hyper vigilance about it.
SPEAKER 7: Are the bites different? Do they itch more? Do they [INAUDIBLE]?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: It's really quite variable among people. So you might have somebody who doesn't react at all, and you might have somebody who reacts very severely to it, to have blisters and everything in between. So we don't have a standard reaction and how it compares to mosquitoes is that they could be-- they overlap.
SPEAKER 11: I take it early detection really is the key.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: It is, yeah. OK, I'm going to go around this way, then.
SPEAKER 8: I heard somebody talked about putting something in their luggage when they traveled that they [INAUDIBLE] so something, some animal product was put into the bag. I can't remember what it was exactly.
SPEAKER 6: Actually, I kind of piggyback on hers. I've actually done a lot of research on this on the web, of course. But they do have this spray now that you can spray on your luggage and it was-- I was going to ask also, how effective those are if you're going into a room to inspect, you find, you risk them hopping on you, your shoes or whatever-- how effective are those sprays?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Depends on what's in them. There are botanicals that may work to keep that one bed bug crawling across from going on your shoe, but will it kill the bed bug? They're not really tested. That's the problem.
SPEAKER 6: Is there a list of effective chemicals that do? So I mean, how do you know by looking at the label what works?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: You don't.
SPEAKER 6: You don't?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: You absolutely would want to be sure that bed bugs are on the label of any product that you use, but there are a lot of questionable products, untested products out there that have popped onto the market that you find in retail stores and et cetera, et cetera that I would not recommend wasting money on.
There's a product called Steri-Fab, which is-- it's something that's called Steri-Fab. It is used in hospitals. It is a sanitizer, but it's also always had bed bugs on the label, and it's something that people do spray their luggage down with when they travel.
SPEAKER 3: And is it effective?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Somewhat. It is somewhat effective.
SPEAKER 3: What do you mean somewhat? Does it kill bed bugs? It's
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Not 100%. Nothing kills bed bugs 100% and that is because--
SPEAKER 6: Heat does.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Heat does. It's a matter of exposure. You have to expose the bed bugs to this product. And if a bed bug is hiding underneath something, there's no residual. So if the bed bug crawls out, crawls over that when it's dried, it's not going to kill the bed bug.
SPEAKER 3: So if you took a hair dryer, very hot, put it in-- blew it on your luggage, would we see bed bugs come out if they were there?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: You might, yeah. You might risk blowing them away before you could notice them. But set on a low setting of the blower, where the temperature is still hot enough to maybe be uncomfortable on your hand, that's probably a good technique. And New York City's Department of Health-- they have a self-help pamphlet, and one of the techniques they recommend is to use a blow dryer to heat up the seams of your mattress. And you know, they're looking for ways that people can do this without spending too much money
SPEAKER 2: You talked a lot about the US and Canada you mentioned. What about the worldwide situation since a lot of this is [INAUDIBLE] in travel. What is happening around the world now?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Well, we know that bed bugs came onto the scene or started to become more common in the developed world pretty much 10 years ago. So Australia and the UK and parts of Europe are all dealing with bed bugs more and more, just like we are-- Canada as well.
Worldwide they never went away. People used DDT in Africa, some of the countries in Africa for mosquitoes, we know that bed bugs are nearly 100% resistant to DDT. So you know, I don't know what countries like that are doing about bed bugs, if they're doing anything.
SPEAKER 7: You mentioned a self-help pamphlet. How is that--
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: It's on the New York City Health Department's home page.
SPEAKER 9: What are your thoughts on movie theaters because that's been such a concern because new people are coming in with every seat? What do you think movie theaters need to do, and what can consumers do?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: It's a difficult thing. You can't inspect it very effectively. They're using the bed bug sniffing dogs on a regular basis, but if you have five shows in a movie theater on a Tuesday, how can you inspect after every show? I think we're all simply-- it's like the flu. We have to be vigilant and we have to protect ourselves and expect that you could encounter it anywhere.
SPEAKER 9: Do you recommend that people wear pants and socks? It's a [INAUDIBLE] thing for protection, but is that going to help?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: If you're worried about being bitten that's the least of the concerns. If you're worried about bringing something home, it wouldn't matter if you wore pants or your socks or anything, because you could bring them home on your coat, on your shorts, on your shoes.
SPEAKER 6: Do they only feed at night?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: No, they'll feed any time that they have the opportunity to feed.
SPEAKER 2: If you are traveling and you find something and you're in an undeveloped area, what should one do? I mean, is there a series of steps to be taken?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: If you have access to a dryer, travelers often will wash all their things or dry them at least before they hop a plane or come into their house or something like that. A dryer is one of the best, most effective things for anyone who travels because soft luggage can be put in there and anything that you carried probably can go into a dryer. Even wool, if you don't wash it, it can be dried.
But there is also this thing called a PackTite and it is a small portable heating unit that will fit luggage. It's made to be large enough to fit the large piece of luggage and a lot of travelers invest in the PackTite because it's a little heating chamber basically for anything that might be at risk for bed bug exposure. It's really quite a brilliant little thing. You can put shoes in there, toys in there.
SPEAKER 6: It's $288 on amazon.com free shipping.
SPEAKER 2: But is there any health measures to take if you're in an undeveloped area, no?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Not for bed bugs.
SPEAKER 3: But the things is, something and melt. I mean, you said--
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: It doesn't go that high. It doesn't really-- I mean, I wouldn't put a candle in there or my makeup or anything, but your shoes won't melt. It only goes to about 140 degrees.
SPEAKER 3: And plastic toys wouldn't melt?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: I don't think so.
SPEAKER 1: On the hotel side, are the rental companies and hotels in New York that you're aware of that are doing effective training of staff?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: I don't know. I think the Stater hotel at Cornell has been proactive about training staff and having seminars, but as far as New York City hotels, I really don't have a lot of contact with anyone. So they might be but I don't know.
SPEAKER 1: In terms of all of the industry.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: I know and a lot of them have had a little bit of bed bug training from our program.
SPEAKER 1: One more question, which may be outside your expertise-- a hotel guest claims-- comes down to the front desk, claims he or she was bitten by a bed bug and is going to sue the hotel. Is there any comments on that vulnerability or that kind of liability.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Well, if a bed bug has taken all reasonable-- I mean, if a be bug-- if a hotel-- they take every reasonable measure to make sure they can bite you. If a hotel has taken every reasonable measure to combat bed bugs and has a protocol in place and has not been negligent and has not rented out a known to be infested room, the hotel probably doesn't have a lot of liability for that. Would somebody be successful in suing? Maybe for a little bit of pain and suffering or something like that, but the courts are still deciding a lot of this and it does depend on the history of that hotel's reaction to bed bugs. Nearly every hotel has probably dealt with them by now and has a track record.
SPEAKER 8: Do you know of any legislation in New York City, in terms of apartment rentals or sales? If you know that an apartment in your building has had bed bugs, must you tell the perspective renter or buyer?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: There was recently-- the New York State-- the Governor signed the bill that required landlords in New York City to disclose whether in the past year there had been bed bugs in a new rental or-- I think it's just a rental. I don't know if it applies to ownership.
SPEAKER 4: I think it's just if they ask. You don't have to volunteer anything.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Oh, really? Really? They're not smart enough to ask.
SPEAKER 2: Are there any major cases of cruise ships being invested. Yeah?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: They are. I mean there are many cases of cruise ships. A few years ago, that was in the news. And you know, I think the useful thing about cruise ships is that they're probably easier to clean, sanitize each unit. It's probably a little easier than a regular hotel, perhaps a wooden structure hotel room.
SPEAKER 3: You mentioned that New York State has a law. What about the rest of the United States? Is this a popular law or just limited?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: It's a state law and it is the first one of its kind, I believe, but other states are going to follow suit, I'm sure. It's rumored.
SPEAKER 9: In your report, which of the recommendations have already been implemented?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: None so far. The New York City City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Gale Brewer, who is a legislator, put out the press release on July 28 that said that they are going to follow x, y, and z recommendations. One of them is to create the bed bug portal, and the next one-- I have it-- well, it's in their press release. They don't state that they're going as far as to hire a bed bug czar, but they state that they will be organizing to help people combat bed bugs more efficiently and training or providing resources to HPD and NYCHA, so that's private housing and public housing, to do better inspections.
SPEAKER 9: Do they know when that portal's gonna--
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Not yet. I don't know what they're doing about it. They're meeting. They have lots of meetings going on, but I don't know what they're doing, what their plans are yet.
SPEAKER 10: Is there anything else specific to New York City that either is plannable or anything else that needs to change in the city?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: There are a lot of ways that bed bugs get spread around. One of the illegal activities that happens that really is hard to control is the scavenging of mattresses from the curb. As you saw, that van in the picture, that's a true picture from a colleague of mine, Ray Lopez, who helped write this report. He took a photograph of the scavengers taking mattresses. They take them to refurbishers. There are no guidelines yet from the state about refurbishing, sanitizing mattresses to be refurbished. So they can do anything they want with these, and you often find bed bugs in refurbished mattresses. That's been in the news. So that's one thing, the Department of Sanitation needs a better way to prevent that from happening, to prevent things from being taken from the curb. It's illegal. Once it's on the curb, it is Department of Sanitation's property. That would be a great step but it's really difficult.
SPEAKER 9: Whose responsibility is it to implement this?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: It became the City Health Department and the Housing Preservation and Development Department, as a coalition. They're working together.
SPEAKER 10: On the academic side, can you tell me more about where the research is headed. You mentioned [INAUDIBLE] but beyond that, where is the research going?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Research-- currently, they are doing a lot of pesticide testing to see whether some of the pesticides we don't normally use in the house or whatever might be effective and looking for ways to deliver it without exposing children, for example. But trapping is another area of research because we know that bed bugs communicate and aggregate and basically, they have a small social life based on pheromones. So there is an aggregation pheromone. Unfortunately, I believe, one of the studies showed that the pheromone had a very limited range. So it wasn't useful to put a trap here and attract bed bugs from all over the room.
There are other ways to attract bed bugs people are researching. What are the kind of chemicals they might pick up on in our breath? And the pheromone research that I mentioned earlier from Sweden about the alarm pheromone, that's pretty interesting work, and I think that will have good application.
There are people doing population studies. How do bed bugs travel in a building, and what makes them travel? Those kinds of questions are being looked at, but truthfully, there's not a lot of money for research at this time. So they are pulling together, robbing from Peter to pay Paul sort of, to get the research accomplished.
SPEAKER 10: Is there more private sector money for research, like hotels that are worried about it?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Not really. That never really happened. Do you have a question?
SPEAKER 5: Maybe this is not completely your area of expertise since you're not the clinical researcher necessarily, but I heard that there are some findings about-- because you know bed bugs can't transmit disease, right? But they just like take it in and then they just kind of get rid of it inside themselves and so that's why when they bite someone else they don't spread it? Could that-- like what applications does that have when it comes to stopping the spread of other disease, like HIV or something. Do you know of any research being done with that?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: No, that will be in the future maybe. We do know that it takes a long time for a disease to evolve with its host, with its vector. To be able to transfer to the host, it has to-- in the case of mosquitoes and some of and other blood borne illnesses carried by bugs, those organisms have to get into the salivary glands to be transferred back into a host. So that really hasn't happened with bed bugs. What we do concern ourselves with is bed bugs in communities where methicillin-resistant staph is common, because that is an opportunistic disease that will invade you know wounds on the skin. So if we have a community with a lot of bed bugs and a community with MRSA in the same group, we might see a very significant outbreak of MRSA. And there are reports of that already.
SPEAKER 3: Could you spell that? Is that M-E-R-S-A?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: It's just M-R-S-A.
SPEAKER 3: M-R-S-A.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Yes? Right. Yes?
SPEAKER 8: Could you tell us-- cite some more of the myths around. Because I just found out about a gym. And we were talking-- I said I was coming to this bed bug lecture and I thought I could talk about the things they've heard. And somebody says, well, what I've heard-- an exterminator said the best thing to use is to spray alcohol and water in crevices and around the room and all of that. Is that true or not?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Alcohol can kill bed bugs on contact-- that said, so can soap and water. So you might be better off using soap and water because alcohol is flammable. And we've seen a lot of cases where people have used gasoline and doused their mattresses or kerosene, which was the old school way to do things. And alcohol falls into that. If you have fumes of alcohol-- of isopropyl in the house, you can ignite an explosion or cause a fire. So we don't really recommend that. It's not a good tactic. Soap and water, detergent and water. But I mean, does anyone have any other myths that they hear or common things?
SPEAKER 7: Cold? Does cold kill them?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Does cold kill them? There is a system out there called Cryonite, which will flash freeze them as though you're using a carbon dioxide fire extinguisher to flash freeze it. And that works if it hits the bed bug or the eggs directly. It's flash freezing to a very cold temperature. If you were to put some items into your freezer in your home, that's probably not going to kill the eggs. It might kill bugs and especially it would kill bugs that have fed recently, that are fat with blood, because the blood will freeze, but it's not going to kill the eggs. The eggs are very resilient.
SPEAKER 4: Are you actually better off putting them in the oven?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Yeah, or the dryer, yeah.
SPEAKER 8: For how long should you put it in the dryer?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: If your dryer is over 120 degrees, we recommend a half hour. People recommend varying things. It just has to get to 120 degrees and sustaining that for 30 minutes is a great idea.
SPEAKER 7: Are there any insecticides that work sometimes. You said none of them [INAUDIBLE]. Which have shown some efficacy?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: All of them have some efficacy. What we do know is that there is an active ingredient called deltamethrin and that is the one that bed bugs are most resistant to in the pyrethroids. DDT-- we know they are very, very resistant to as well. It's the one that performs the worst. But deltamethrin is common in a lot of formulations that we use. Unfortunately, people are using it a lot and furthering resistance. There is another active ingredient called lambda cyhalothrin, and I can spell that for you. Lambda, like the Greek letter. Cyhalothrin, C-Y-H-A-L-O-T-H-R-I-N. that's pretty effective but it's only available to applicators, certified professional applicators. It's restricted use.
SPEAKER 8: If you can afford to hire an exterminator, there are a lot out there that claim that they're bed bug experts. Is there any kind of certification? Is there any way to tell that somebody really is [INAUDIBLE]?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: You want to make sure, first of all, that they're certified applicators, that they have insurance, they're registered with the New York State DEC, Department of Environmental Conservation. And then other than that, there is no particular bed bug certification. But you can ask them for references. You can look up their reputation online. It's pretty easy to find that information today. And so I would recommend do your research about a company. If they do a good job, you'll hear about it online. Ma'am?
SPEAKER 4: What are the side effects of this lambda cyhalothrin?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: The side effects could be significant if you are directly exposed to it. The pyrethroids tend to cause sort of the headache, twitchiness, and worst case scenario, vomiting, that kind of thing. So you wouldn't want to be exposed to it directly. That type of product would be something used in cracks and crevices around a room, not on the mattress, not on sleeping areas, and certainly, I would never use something like that around my kids.
SPEAKER 9: You guys put out this report in April with this really long list of recommendations, but what are your thoughts on what's happened so far, the city's response to it? Are they accepting this or not?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: My thoughts-- well, since I work with the city still, I understand that they have a lot of issues on hand right now-- West Nile virus being one of them, rodents being another one of them in the summer. So they're working to pull some money together. I thought that was remarkable.
I don't know what their plans are at this moment for the report, and I do know that they only have the capacity to implement maybe one or two of our recommendations. My hope is that the city will look to implement all the rest of these recommendations over time. But how do I feel about them? I know it takes time to pull these things together. Ma'am?
SPEAKER 3: I know that the bed bugs sound like a plague and very uncomfortable and something I'd never want to deal with, but when you think of it, when you get bitten by a mosquito and you can get Lyme disease--
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Well, that would be a tick will give you Lyme disease.
SPEAKER 3: I'm sorry, a tick-- I mean, to me, that's much more serious.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Sure, it is. Because bed bugs don't vector disease, that has placed them lower on the sort of scale with health departments.
SPEAKER 3: But I understand they itch.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: They can carry, catch a ride with you on your things. They're sort of a community pest because they travel with people on our belongings and among our homes. But we've ignored this issue, I think, for long enough because nobody should have to live with this. And some of the folks out there who sort of fall under the radar are living with this and providing what you might call a reservoir of bed bugs that are getting out into the community. And when we discover these apartments-- I just heard about one yesterday in my town, in Suffolk County-- when we hear about these and the conditions under which people are living and the millions of bed bug in their home, it's just as bad, I think, as a disease carrying organism that bites you once or twice.
You want to shoot some bed bugs? Got bed bugs here. Anybody want to see?
No, they don't jump, but they are sort of hiding. Oh, look at him. He's trying to get it on with the lady there. There's two of them right here. You see him on top of her?
SPEAKER 11: Yeah, he's mating. He' stabbing her.
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: Not yet. If he wraps his body around, he'll be.
SPEAKER 3: So he's like a little black dot.
SPEAKER 7: Can they jump?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: No, they don't jump. You can get a good close look at them without feeling fear.
SPEAKER 11: Which one of these is the female?
JODY GANGLOFF-KAUFMANN: The female has a rounded abdomen and the male has a pointy, sort of a spade shaped--
We've received your request
You will be notified by email when the transcript and captions are available. The process may take up to 5 business days. Please contact email@example.com if you have any questions about this request.
Cornell University entomologist Jody Gangloff-Kaufmann, an internationally known bed bug expert, has spent the past decade helping families and municipalities combat the rise of this suddenly resurgent parasite. As a member of New York City's specially created Bed Bug Advisory Board, she helped craft the Spring 2010 report that calls for a coordinated education and control campaign, and urges the creation of a "Bed Bug Task Force" to oversee the effort.
On Tuesday, Sept. 14, at Cornell's ILR Conference Center on East 34th Street, Gangloff-Kaufmann met with members of the media at this month's Inside Cornell session for an on-the-record conversation about bed bugs, government battle plans, and what we can all do to keep the once merely mythical parasites from biting.