May 13, 2010 8:16 PM by Andy Koen
A local couple says that their Colorado Springs apartment became infected with bed bugs last month and that the days since have been a living hell.
They asked only to be identified as Rick and Tina and live in the Copperstone Apartments in Central Colorado Springs.
Rick says the bug bites first showed up in early April month ago, but didn't realize what they were.
"It was happening very seldomly, so we thought it was just spiders," Rick said. "So, we let it go. Two weeks later it really started spreading."
Since then, their lives, like their furniture have been turned upside down. Frequent visits by exterminators have left their belongings strewn. Trash bags of laundry are piled up on the kitchen floor.
The unexpected costs for hotel and laundry bills, new pillows and furniture have crippled their cash flow. But there's an emotional toll as well.
"Honestly, it makes us feel like outcast because the neighbors look at us and it's like we're contagious or something," Rick said.
"It's been hell, honestly," said Tina who has nightmares about the bugs. "One thing I think about is that there was a crack in hell and these creatures came out."
A survey of Pest Control Operators from June of 2009 suggests that bed bugs are a much greater problem in Colorado than they were five years ago.
In fact, local pest control companies say calls for bed bugs in Colorado Springs have jumped 70 percent in the last decade.
The treatments are costly and require multiple visits.
Apartment Manager Doug Nelson says they have acted quickly to curtail the infestation.
"They've been out here since we were notified of the situation, we've actually had a couple of inspections and they've actually been out here to treat for it and they're taking care of the problem very well," Nelson said.
He says he is doing all he can for Rick and Tina, but they wish he'd do more.
"I want people to know that they can't just do a half-hearted job of treating this," Tina said. "It needs to be done the right way, that's the only way you can get rid of this problem."
Bed bugs aren't considered a public health hazard, but rather a nuisance.
Infestations should first be reported to an apartment manager and if the issue isn't handled then it should be reported to code enforcement.
Travelers who are concerned about bed bugs can follow these suggestsions from MSNBC: