Lisa R on 07/04/2007
We live on the first floor of a multi-unit apartment building.
My husband is a recent amputee (below the knee, last January). On April 24th when I returned home from work I found him in severe pain and his residual limb red and swollen. I called his doctor who said it sounded like an infection and to take him to emergency. I called an ambulance as he was in too much pain to wear his prosthesis and we have no wheelchair access in our building. From emergency he was admitted to hospital with
a server infection and fever. The infection did not respond to antibiotics and worsened; his fever was 104 and his leg was so swollen the skin was splitting. He was in agony. A few days later he had to have further surgery to open and drain the infection. He spent 8 days in hospital and was on IV antibiotics at home for another 2 weeks, all the time confined to wheelchair and in great pain. He was due to start work hardening therapy a few days after the infection began - this was delayed by 2 months while he recovered.
The cause of the infection was not known but several doctors suggested insect bite or 'spider bite". At the time I thought that unlikely, but later (a) my husband remembered killing a strange looking bug on the wall behind our bed, that was full of blood, and in retrospect sounded like a bed bug. This was 2-3 days before the infection set iin. (b) after return from hospital, I found out the building had a bed bug infestation. so, it's not definite (and can probably never be know) whether the infection was due to bed bug bite, but strong circumstantial evidence.
I spent most of the time at the hospital while my husband was there and rarely slept at home for more than a few hours, but several times I noticed I had itchy red bites on one shoulder and upper arm, and on my ankles, several of which became very swollen and painful.I thought they were really bad mosquito bites - but then a neighbor said they looked like bed bug bites and told me that an apartment on the 5th (top) floor was infested and pest control had sprayed it, but now the bugs were moving through the building. At no time had the landlords or building supers provided us (or anyone as far as I know) with this information or posted warnings. This was about the 2nd week in May.
I immediately reported the problem to the super (I hadn't seen any bugs, but didn't know what to look for). She said she would have us sprayed, and I asked how long this problem had been going on and she said 'a month or two', so I said why on earth hadn't she warned us, especially since she knew about my husband's infection. She said the 'policy' was to only offer spraying if tenants reported bugs in their apartments and REQUESTED spraying - but they weren't advising anyone about the problem. I thought this was totally irresponsible and said so. She said she was 'really really sorry' and would have them spray in a few days.
We have since been sprayed 5 times, and I have still been bitten almost every night both in bed and more recently in the living room. I have replaced our bedding and washed everything washable repeatedly (at considerable expense), vaccuumed repeatedly, but sticky tape on bedlegs, and thrown loads of stuff away. Once I knew what I was looking for, I caught at least a dozen in the kitchen by the radiator. I had the pest guy spray there after I took it apart and asked if they could come in that way, and he said definitely, the could travel inside walls, along pipes etc. I asked to have the many cracks in our floorboards and behind sink sealed, but super wouldn't do it as she said they 'wanted them to come out' so we feel like bait.
I seem to have developed an allergic reaction to bites; some on my ankle became so swollen I couldn't get shoes on for days, and others became infected so badly I had to get antibiotics as well as antihistamines and topical antibiotics. I have insomnia, anxiety and chronic diahrreaa. My husband has not had any obvious bites, but it is probable that he is not showing the same reaction I do, and we take extreme measures to protect him (sleeping on the couch - until we found some in the living room - me constantly patrolling at night checking all rooms before he enters them, keeping a thick shrinker sock on his residual limb at all times not wearing his prosthesis).
Although the landlords / super have been cooperative about having us sprayed, I feel they were extremely negligent in not warning us (or anyone else) about the problem initially and having all apartments inspected immediately (they did have an inspection about 3 weeks ago and confirmed our upstairs neighbors are infested too, but like us, didn't know they had bed bugs). Many other apartments have bed bugs too. The supers keep saying the problem is 'under control' but you can see the bugs in the hallways - they rarely clean or vacuum.
I refused to sign the lease (due June 1st) until the problem is resolved (we'd move, but my husband's condition makes that very difficult, physically and financially - plus we are scared we'd take bugs with us). I also took $165 off this months rent for the cost of replacing bedding, excess laundry and SteriFab (I've been spraying myself as well). we'll probably end up in court over this, but meantime - given their performance so far, I doubt that prospective tenants will be warned about the infestation - and quite a few apartments are vacant because people have moved out because of the bugs.
this is probably far more info than you want - but hopefully at least others can be warned about this building.