Bedbug victim: ‘Squish first, ask questions later’

A woman in Multnomah County holds a container with two bed bugs, May 2, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
A woman in Multnomah County holds a container with two bed bugs, May 2, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Rabia Yeaman does not recommend losing weight the way she did. Her house got bedbugs.

“It was very traumatic,” said bedbug victim Rabia Yeaman. “I lost sleep. I lost about 25 pounds. Terrible diet plan, don’t try it. [There was] unimaginable stress and, of course, a big financial bill to fight them and have enough treatments to be able to succeed in getting rid of them.”

Yeaman believes she got bedbugs from a neighbor’s home.

“I live in an older building that has been converted into condominium and my neighbor got bedbugs but she didn’t tell anyone until after her second treatment,” she said.

It took four to six months to obliterate the pests in her home, but Yeaman has been free of bedbugs for about five years now.

A bus in Multnomah County displays a sign about bed bugs, May 2, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)
A bus in Multnomah County displays a sign about bed bugs, May 2, 2013 (KOIN 6 News)

Except for dead specimens she uses for community education.

Bedbugs can be picked up just about anywhere, and can land in homes, hotel rooms even academic buildings both clean and dirty. There also are reports of chronic infestation at PSU.

In 2007, Multnomah County began receiving reports of bed bugs in transitional housing, hotels and shelters in Portland. In 2011 it began shaping the first regionally coordinated bedbug response team, known as the Bed Bug Workgroup.

“Right now there’s no required tracking or reporting system but we have these great relationships with pest management who kind of act as our pipeline of information,” said Multnomah County bedbug expert Matt Davis.

Thirty Trimet buses are being outfitted to display billboards with a website address for bedbug information and a hotline number, 503.988.BUGS. The county reports nearly 300 calls to the hotline over the past year alone.

Rabia Yeaman said people need to be able to identify bedbugs. “Squish first,” she said, “ask questions later.”

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