To Halt Spreading Health Concern, Companies Need To Come Clean About Bed Bugs, South Carolina Attorney Says
Columbia, S. C., personal injury attorney Bert Louthian says the state's consumers, tenants and employees are finding themselves increasingly exposed to the risk of bed bug infestations.
Columbia, SC (PRWEB) August 29, 2010
A recently released survey shows that landlords, hotel owners and employers may be exacerbating the nation’s growing bed bug problem by refusing to be open and honest about infestations, Columbia, S. C., personal injury attorney Bert Louthian (http://www. louthianlaw. com/about. asp) says.
In July, the National Pest Management Association and University of Kentucky announced results of its nationwide survey of pest control companies. Ninety-five percent of the respondents reported an encounter with a bed bug infestation within the past year. Prior to 2000, only 25 percent of the respondents had seen such infestations.
According to the surveyed pest control professionals, a leading cause for the spread of infestations has been the reluctance of landlords, hotels, business management and universities to report bed bug problems, or their outright denial of any problems.
“Because there’s a certain stigma attached to it, no one wants to be known as the employer or landlord or business that has bed bugs,” says Louthian, a partner in The Louthian Law Firm, P. A., which represents personal injury victims (http://www. louthianlaw. com/injury. asp).
“Still, people need to be warned that there’s a problem so that they can protect themselves and help prevent these infestations from spreading. Silence is no solution.”
Bed bugs, or Cimex lectularius, are apple-seed-sized parasites that tend to hide in suitcases, boxes, shoes, mattresses, headboards, baseboards, electrical switch plates, wallpaper, upholstery and furniture crevices, the NPMA says.
At night, the bed bugs seek out sleeping humans and animals to sip drops of blood. The bites can trigger allergic reactions, including red skin lesions similar to those caused by mosquitoes and fleas, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. Although these lesions can be itchy and irritating and lead to infections if scratched, bed bugs are not known to spread diseases.
“Having multiple bed bug bites can lead to much physical discomfort, pain and suffering,” Louthian says. “It can be a very horrifying experience.”
According to the NPMA, bed bugs have been increasingly infesting homes, apartments, hotels, retail stores, offices, churches, dorm rooms, hospitals, daycares, libraries, movie theaters, laundry facilities and “other places where humans live and gather.” The bugs reproduce rapidly.
Pest control firms have seen a 57 percent increase in bed bug-related calls in the last five years, the NPMA reports. Nearly 40 percent of all treatments have been in commercial buildings.
“Because these pests are hitchhikers, the concern is that a person may be exposed to bed bugs at work or at a hotel and then unknowingly carry them home,” Louthian says.
According to Louthian, landlords and hotel/motel owners have a legal duty to provide safe and habitable accommodations for tenants and guests, which includes providing apartments, homes and rooms that are bedbug-free.
Employers, he said, have a similar legal obligation to provide safe and healthy workplaces that do not expose their employees to bed bug infestations.
“If you encounter bed bugs in a rented space or at work, you should report it to the landlord, property owner or employer immediately, so they can contact a pest control professional and begin appropriate treatment right away,” Louthian says.
“My concern is that these problems are being reported by tenants, guests and employees, and those who are in the best position to prevent these infestations are either denying there’s a problem or simply failing to act, which is completely inexcusable.”
About The Louthian Law Firm
The Louthian Law Firm, P. A. (http://www. louthianlaw. com/index. asp), of Columbia, S. C., has been obtaining fair compensation for personal injury victims since 1959. The firm was founded by Herbert Louthian, who has nearly 50 years of trial experience and is licensed to practice in all courts in South Carolina. The Louthian Law Firm focuses on personal injury cases involving medical malpractice; car, truck and motorcycle accidents; and other serious and catastrophic injuries throughout South Carolina. For a free, confidential case evaluation, contact the firm by phone at (866) 410-5656 or through its online form (http://www. louthianlaw. com/contact. asp).