D.C. Forum: Bed Bugs a National Threat

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WATCH VIDEO: These tiny, bloodsucking pests are making a comeback, infesting homes and hotels nationwide.

You might think that politicians have enough on their plates trying to fix the economy, fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, dealing with humanitarian crises in Haiti and Pakistan, and other matters of national import.

But money talks, especially in politics, and a tiny bug is causing a big ruckus on Capitol Hill:

Today, Members of Congress, representatives from federal agencies, academic bed bug experts, the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), other industries and victims of bed bug infestations will gather at the Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, D.C. to participate in the “Don’t Let Bed Bugs Bite” Congressional Forum organized by Representative G.K. Butterfield (D-NC).

The event, sponsored by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), “will offer insights from the professional pest control industry about the extent of the bed bug problem, what the industry is doing to combat it and what the federal government can do to assist Americans whose lives are impacted by this pest.”

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How serious is the bed bug problem?

The situation is dire, according to Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the NPMA: “Bed bugs are no longer a pest of the past or characters in a nursery rhyme, rather they are a real and serious problem. They have invaded not only residences, but public places as well. While our industry is committed to effectively eliminating the bed bug problem, federal intervention is also necessary. This Forum is a crucial first step.”

Representative Butterfield agreed, saying that the bed bug threat “not only jeopardizes public health and safety, but also threatens commerce by creating disincentives to travel and engage in activities like riding public transportation or going to the movies.”

While no one doubts that bed bug infestations have been a problem in some areas (and for the hotel industry in particular), there seems to be no data showing a national decline in the use of public transportation or theater attendance attributed to bed bugs.

The panel will discuss the medical, financial, and even “emotional” impact of bed bugs to help politicians decide how to spend federal monies on the little monsters.

Photo credit: Getty Images