AN OUTBREAK of bed bugs - thought to be banished in the last century - are infesting homes in a Scottish city, it was revealed today.
Environmental health teams have been drafted in to Govanhill, in Glasgow where the tiny mites have been taking over homes and biting residents.
The blood sucking parasites were almost extinct, but since the turn of the century infestations have risen at an alarming rate of 25 per cent a year, according to environmentalists.
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One student who lives in Govanhill, said his room was over-run with the parasites.
The 24-year-old, who asked not to be named, had been bitten many times.
He said: “I had to leave my sofa behind because it was infested, but I couldn’t stay there any more.
“When I saw the bugs it was a horrible confirmation.
“Thinking about it still makes my skin crawl.”
Councillor Soryia Siddique, whose ward covers affected areas, said: “Having been contacted by residents regarding infestation, concerns were raised and NHS Environmental Health have now committed to an additional team of officers in the area.
“I have requested a structured long-term partnership approach to the challenge including prevention, training, liaison with GPs and education, aiming to implement a comprehensive block by block treatment for infestations.”
Dr Richard Naylor, consultant entomologist with the Bed Bug Foundation, said bed bugs started to be seen again in the late 1990s, and it was likely that populations continued to grow because people mistook them for dust mites.
He said: “From the 1930s and 1940s they were practically extinct, because they would die with the insecticides that were used but these days it’s almost remarkable how they are able to resist them.”
Experts and pest control agencies have said the surge in population is likely to come from travelling and immigration, as well as a resistance to insecticides.
John Barclay, general manager at Excel Environmental, said: “I’ve worked in pest control for 35 years and only started to see bed bugs about 15 years ago.
“Now we get calls about them every other day.”
Bed bugs can stow away in suitcases or clothes, making them easy to spread.
The bugs are also more resistant to insecticides than ever which means spraying them is no longer the best way to remove them.
A woman, who wished to remain anonymous, thought that when she moved into Daisy Street, Govanhill, she was moving into her dream home.
Instead, she ended up homeless with her infant daughter after three days because the house was infested with bed bugs.
She said she saw them crawling around her six-month-old daughter’s crib and the baby had bite marks on her face.
The woman wanted to remain anonymous due to the embarrassment and possible backlash.
She said: “They were crawling all over the walls in every room.
“Pest control came out and said ‘These are horrendous, you need to leave and don’t come back’.
“I had to throw away so much, all my baby’s cuddly toys, blankets and personal things you wouldn’t ever want to dump.”
The woman and her daughter now live elsewhere and are free of bed bugs but she said the fear still remains.
She said: “Every speck of dust, every fly I see I think it’s a bed bug and I panic.
“It took me over a year to even sleep in a bed again.”
A spokesman from The Royal Environmental Health Institute of Scotland warned that bed bugs were becoming “endemic” in Glasgow and Edinburgh.
He said: “Bed bugs are an international problem often associated with travellers returning from holiday or business visits abroad.
“Increasingly we are finding them in densely populated areas of our cities in buildings of multiple occupancy and ownership, where it is difficult for authorities to get access to inspect or treat.
“It is difficult to prevent entry of these insects into the premises as they are carried in on humans, luggage, laundry or furniture.
“To gain control of the infestation, we need to detect it early and act quickly by engaging the services of a professional pest control company.”
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