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If you think you don't need to worry about bed bugs in London, talk to the London International Academy boarding school students.
Or better yet, take a close look at them.
It won't take long to find clusters of red bug bites on the students -- whose parents pay $20,000 per year for accommodation at the Park Tower on King St. and pre-university courses at the downtown private school.
"Right here," said one teen yesterday, rolling up his sleeve to show where he was bitten the week before. "My neck," said another, gesturing to a grouping of six angry red welts just under his chin.
Many of the students have arrived during the past month to start school meant to prepare them for Canadian university. Their English is still spotty, but when stopped out front of their residence at 186 King Street Thursday, all were familiar with the term bed bugs.
"Oh yes bed bugs," said one boy, who declined to give his name or have his picture taken. "I've been here two weeks. I was bit three or four nights.
"I don't sleep well."
Another student said he had seen the bugs and killed some, but still he wakes up with bites "every night."
Inspectors with the Middlesex-London Health Unit are aware of the situation at the building, said environmental health director Wally Adams.
He said a health unit inspector called out for something else in August noticed some bed bugs and ordered the building manager to "beef up integrated pest management measures.
When the inspector returned Aug. 23, he was satisfied that the manager had complied.
"The school and landlord are working cooperatively to address this problem," said Adams.
A manager at Park Tower said the building has dealt with "a few isolated incidences of bed bugs, no different than any other residence in London."
She too declined to give her name, but said landlords have a "preventative program in place to proactively manage pests."
She said she was too busy to comment further, but would be available for interviews after September 23. She would not comment on the significance of the 23rd.
Earlier this week the Health Unit said calls about bed bugs have doubled in two years and an official with the London Middlesex Housing Corp. said it's pest control budget has skyrocketed to $300,000 from $25,000 four years ago all because of bed bugs. The housing corp. and health unit have now partnered for a public awareness program and representatives plan to visit every city owned complex starting next week to talk to residents about bed bugs, how to recognize them and how to prepare their units for treatment.
Traditionally, the health unit does not get involved in situations regarding bed bugs because they are considered a "nuisance," not a "health hazard."
But the problem has become so widespread, that the health unit is asking the public to phone in reports of any infestations.