Don’t let the bed bugs bite

Prevention and outreach coordinator helps community residents fight bed bug infestations

James Lyons researched bed bugs while earning his Master’s in Sociology at the University of Manitoba. He brings that experience to his new role at the DMSMCA. Aaron Epp

Don’t panic. That’s what James Lyons wants anyone who finds bed bugs in their home to know.

“A cool-headed approach to bed bugs is generally very successful,” said Lyons, who works as the community bed bug prevention and outreach coordinator at the Daniel McIntyre/St. Matthews Community Association (DMSMCA).

Lyons started his job in September with the objective of overseeing the West Central/West Broadway Bed Bug Community Education, Prevention and Support program.

He works at the community level in the Spence, West Broadway, Daniel McIntyre and St. Matthews neighbourhoods to educate people about bedbugs, as well as work with landlords and tenants on an as-needed basis to make sure that proper and adequate steps are taken in the event of a bedbug infestation.

“It’s very prevalent,” Lyons said of Winnipeg’s bed bug problem. “If you go and speak to a group, if somebody in the group hasn’t had bed bugs, they know somebody who has. And I don’t think that’s just isolated in this community. I live in south Winnipeg and have friends who have dealt with (bed bugs).”

Lyons holds a Master’s in Sociology from the University of Manitoba, where he participated in a research project called Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite.

The research team interviewed 16 inner-city residents, three landlords, two public health inspectors and five inner-city community workers to assess the social impacts of bed bug infestation on inner-city residents.

The team also explored the policies and practices needed to respond effectively to the problem.

Lyons says that when he worked on the project in 2010, there was “still quite a stigma associated with bed bugs.” Today that stigma is not as bad, although in some cases people are embarrassed when they discover bed bugs in their home.

Still, the best thing to do in case of an infestation is to come forward.

“First things first, have a discussion with your landlord,” Lyons said. “In the majority of cases, especially in a multi-unit area, the landlord is responsible for having that treated. So, you don’t necessarily need to worry about getting a big bill in the mail.”

The landlord is responsible for getting a professional to the site to take care of the situation, he added, but tenants are responsible for cooperating with the instructions given by the landlord and exterminator.

“There’s a lot of preparation, and even outside-the-box thinking, that goes along with (removal of) a bed bug infestation” for it to be successful, Lyons said. “But if both parties cooperate, your success rate is going to be quite high.”

So whether you are a tenant, a landlord or a homeowner dealing with a bed bug infestation, Lyons encourages you to get in touch with him. He will provide the right resources and connect you with the right people.

“Sometimes you can get property damage,” he said, “but just because you have bed bugs, it doesn’t mean your couches and mattresses and everything need to hit the back lane.”

Call Lyons at 204-774-7005 extension 109, or email him at [email protected].

Published in Volume 67, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 10, 2013)

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