RENO, NV - One thing about bedbugs. Everyone fears the stigma they carry.
A case in point. This morning we received a After a call from an unhappy tenant at the Meadowood Apartments in south Reno.
We arrived to find, in fact, several unhappy residents, though all feared going on camera to talk about it.
It was no surprise we also found representatives of the owners less than enthusiastic about our presence. We were asked to leave.
We also found the bugs themselves clinging to the outside of the apartment where all agree this began. They had left because their food source, the residents who were once inside had left.
Management later told us they were dead and we won't argue. We opted not to get that close.
The bugs apparently came with the tenant in this apartment. They were later reported by his caretaker. By then they had spread to three adjacent apartments.
A spokesperson for the company says the problem is being handled by a pest control company and that appears to be the best advice.
"No resident should tackle this problem on their own," says vector control specialist Jeff Jeppson of the Washoe County Health Department. "A professional can get rid of them."
But Jeppson adds cooperation from tenants is also key. "You need them to follow all the recommendations of the pest control company in preparing their unit to be treated."
That begins with bagging up belongings, so the exterminator can treat them and it may be happening, but there is friction here.
Tenants claim they're being stigmatized, banned from using amenities. Those in affected apartments have gotten letters apologizing for the infestation, but strongly advising them to not use the complex's amenities like the club house. even the pool and tennis court.
They aren't happy, but most are still tenants, but one family told us they'd had enough and were moving out, taking some possessions, but leaving their furniture and any hitchiking bedbugs behind.
They say they were told they couldn't leave the items by the apartment's dumpsters, that they'd have to pay to have them hauled off.
Management says they were asked to leave for failure to pay rent and they say, in this case,. the departing renters won't have to pay for the disposal of the furniture.
And, they say, the steps they've taken are for everyone's protection.
Like every other apartment management, I've ever talked with about this problem, they wonder why we never report on the problem cropping up at the area's major hotel casinos.
It's a fair question for which I have no answer. I can say that Jeppson says the county health department steps in when the complaint involves a licensed hotel or motel and that those properties are required to address the problem immeidately.
When they receive a complaint from an apartment tenant they advise sending the management a certified letter demanding the company act. The department will jump in if management fails to do that.
These little bugs aren't considered a serious health risk, they carry no diseases, but they remain an irritant, in more ways than one.