TROUBLESHOOTERS: Peoria apartment is crawling with bed bugs

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PEORIA (HOI) — A Peoria man said he’s had bed bugs in his apartment on and off for years.

A woman called Jessica Cook about her brother who lives in Sterling Towers West in Peoria.

The man, who wished to remain anonymous, has lived at the complex for four years.

**We do want to warn you some of the images below may be disturbing.**

“I’ve been eaten alive. There’s vampires in my room. Bed bugs and what they’re telling me is, it’s going floor by floor.”

He said his sister and brother-in-law won’t come inside.

Jessica Cook: “How does this make you feel?”

Renter: “*****”

A Heart of Illinois ABC crew went inside with protective gear, including a hair net, gloves, and full suit. They went into his bedroom and saw droppings on the comforter, a sign of bed bugs.

Then the hunt was on for the reddish brown bugs.

It didn’t take one to find one, then another, and soon hundreds.

Renter: “Roaches I can handle.”

Jessica: But not the bed bugs?

Renter: “Nope.”

After he flipped the mattress over, it got worse.

There were even bug skins left behind.

Jessica: On average how many would you say you have?

Renter: “The bugs? At least thousands, but then it’s like periodically they’ll come and go.”

They’ve made their way into his bathroom in 2 corners.

He said a bug inspector came to look at his unit.

“Really didn’t move nothing. Just looked at the bed and said yeah I got them.”

We asked Orkin Branch Manager Ladaryl Lyte to look at the video we got.

“This is what we’d consider a heavy case of bed bugs that just went above and beyond,” said Lyte.

Lyte estimated this mans case is a three to six month infestation, possibly longer.

He added bed bugs can survive a year without feeding, but once they do, they multiple quickly.

Lyte said, “When people get them they think it’s this crazy thing, but it’s not. The cleanest house can get bed bugs on any given day because they’re hitchhiking. You and I can go to the theater and come home and we have bed bugs. If we don’t spot it early, it’ll have an egg. It’ll build and feed.”

Jessica Cook asked Jackie Newman, Director for the Peoria Housing Authority about the situation.

PHA is in charge of Sterling Towers West.

Newman said when they’re made aware of bed bugs they send an inspector in.

PHA foots the bill.

Once the unit is treated, follow-up appointments are scheduled.

In this man’s case, Newman said a company has attempted to treat the apartment before, but the unit wasn’t prepped properly.

That means they say he didn’t bag up his belongings for the treatment.

Since Heart of Illinois ABC was in his home, the unit has been treated.

The man says things are improving.

He adds he never would’ve moved in if he knew this was his future lifestyle.

His closet is empty and all of his clothes are in garbage bags.

His mission is to keep them bug free.

“It’s hell. I’m pretty much living in purgatory.”

This problem will continue unless something is done, meaning the mans bites will too, because bed bugs feed off human blood.

Newman said the infestation hasn’t spread to other units.

The man Heart of Illinois ABC talked to said he’s thrown out multiple mattresses.

He’s on a waiting list to move across the river.

Diana Scott, Public Information Officer for the Peoria County Health Department, said bed bugs are not reported because they don’t cause disease.

Bed bugs typically come out in the dark, but if there’s a heavy infestation they’ll come out in the daytime.

Below are some tips on how to prevent bed bugs:

  • If you’re traveling, set your luggage high off the ground and away from the walls
  • Never set your luggage on the bed
  • When you get home, leave your luggage in your garage
  • Dry everything at the highest temperature for at least 15 minutes
  • Check the seams of all mattresses you use
  • If you see a mattresses, clothing, or furniture outside, leave it
  • Keep clutter to a minimum

Where to look for bed bugs:

  • Mattress
  • Baseboard
  • Headrest
  • Picture frames
  • Plug sockets
Jessica Cook

Jessica Cook

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