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Don’t Let the Bedbugs Bite

Shira Yehudit Djlilmand

An unstoppable foe has invaded the US. As thousands suffer from the trauma of these little warriors — better known as bedbugs — the traditional “Sleep well, sleep tight, don’t let the bedbugs bite” is no longer a joke. And these bloodsucking bugs are no respecters of religion or rank; rich and poor, Jew and non-Jew, secular and chareidi — everyone is suffering. Mishpacha investigates how the frum communities of New York and New Jersey are faring in the bedbug battle.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

“What I found was enough to make my insides turn — I was so disgusted, incensed, mortified.”

“I was totally hysterical. It’s a horrible feeling — you feel as if you’re being invaded.”

“I couldn’t believe what I saw — it made me so nauseous.”

These were the reactions of three different frum Jews, in three different locations, on discovering bedbugs in their home. The initial shock of finding such unpleasant intruders is bad enough, but what follows is equally traumatic — the shame, the inconvenience, the cost, and the emotional turmoil.

In the last few years, it seems that these tiny bloodsucking bugs have all but taken over America. Although bedbugs were all but eradicated in the US by the 1950s, they have now returned with a vengeance, reaching epidemic proportions. According to the US National Pest Management Association, since 2001 there has been a 71 percent increase in bedbug infestations; in New York alone last year, there were 10,985 complaints and 4,084 verified infestations. The bugs show no respect for rank or status, having already invaded such prestigious addresses as the United Nations, the offices of former US President Bill Clinton, and the Empire State Building.

Difficult to detect and tough to eradicate, the bedbugs also spread like wildfire, traveling on clothing and between apartments, making the epidemic impossible to control. “It spreads geometrically, with the potential to affect anyone,” reported the owner of the Lakewood-based ThermaRid extermination company. “It doesn’t matter where you live — Flatbush, Lakewood, Williamsburg; if you go out of the house, you have a problem.” In frum communities, especially the larger communities in New York and Lakewood, everyone has been hit, from yeshivos and nursing homes to shops, offices, and private homes.


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