Bedbugs bugging firefighters

WILMINGTON - September 9, 2009

"We had an exterminator come out. They evaluated the situation and advised us that we did have bedbugs," Battalion Chief Carl Zipfel of the Wilmington Fire Department said.

With that, they threw out mattresses, upholstered furniture and carpets, anything that may serve as a habitat for the six-legged creatures that hide during the day and feast on your blood at night.

"Last night, we relocated the company to a different firehouse so there was no one staying here last night," Zipfel said.

Bedbugs have been the increasing focus of reports on Action News recently with infestations being cited at apartment complexes and shelters across the tristate area.

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A CDC report on the problem notes the bedbug population across the US has increased by 500-percent in recent years and investigators found three epicenters for the pests in three poultry facilities in the US, in Arkansas, Texas and the state of Delaware.

The cause of the resurgence is unknown, but it may be due to increased international travel and the ban on pesticides like DDT.

"We'll be purchasing all new bedding and furniture today," Zipfel said.

The problem can be expensive to eradicate. At the Wilmington Fire Station 2, it cost $810 for the exterminating service and another $4,500 for mattresses and furniture.

Firefighters are told wash their gear if it was stored at the station.

A bill has been introduced in Congress to give states more money to tackle bedbugs.

Officials say there are no other problems being reported at any of their other firehouses.

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