Hoarding neighbour causes bed bug nightmare for condo residents

LETHBRIDGE – They usually come at night, when she’s sleeping. Slowly they crawl on to her skin and then go in for a big bite.

Deanna Hicks says her condo unit at Uplands Manor has been plagued by bed bugs for the last six months.

“It’s just very disturbing,” she explained. “Usually I wake up and it’s like a stinging feeling and then I instantly have a hive.”

Tenants in her building claim the infestation originated from an individual who struggled with a hoarding disorder, eventually spreading to 12 surrounding units.

Hicks lives below the infected condo, which was condemned in early October due to the severity of the outbreak. Her home has been sprayed with pesticides twice, but the problem still has not gone away.

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“I understand that it does take time, but for people like us we have to suffer through all of that and I don’t think it’s fair,” added Hicks, who’s lived in the building for the last two years.

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Residents at Uplands Manor allege it has been at least a month since they have received any updates on the bed bug situation, which has many nervous that the infestation has spread.

“There’s no more spreading, everything is contained now,” explained Stuart Maddaford, a broker for Hometime Property Services, who owns the condo.

He said the next step is terminating the parasites.

“The board hasn’t decided how they’re going to handle the extermination part of it. If it’s going to be each individual unit owner, or if it’s going to go back to the one that created the problem.”

The exterminator company the management group hired said they have never seen an infestation this bad. They expect it will take some time until the pests are completely wiped out.

According to Alberta Health Services, the appropriate measures have been taken to keep the bed bugs under control.

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“They are not a health issue,” said Dr. Karin Goodison with AHS. “They don’t carry any contagious diseases, so other than it being annoying and causing anxiety we really don’t see health concerns related to bed bugs.”

Doris Larson, who has lived in the building for three years, is just down the hall from the problem units. She is in constant fear that her home will be next.

“Is tonight the night that I’m going to feel something crawling across my neck, and oh no I have them, now I’ve got to empty my cupboards and get the spraying done.”

Larson added that there has been no safety measures put in place for the rest of the building since the outbreak.

Hicks said she is tired of no one is taking responsibility for the issue, leaving many residents in the dark.

“I know I’m not going to be staying here. I have to leave. I’m going to have to start all over again,” she said. For her, it is the only way to wake up from her bed bug nightmare.

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