Bed bugs make the home page of the NYC Department of Health

You have to see this.

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has published a new bed bug guide, Preventing and Getting Rid of Bed Bugs Safely (PDF), available in English as a printed booklet by calling 311, and in Spanish (PDF) and Chinese (PDF) on the web.

This guide is a part of the Health Department’s Healthy Homes guides. It uses spare and easy-to-follow text and drawings like this one:

getting rid of infested items graphic from DOHMH bed bug guide

Infested with bedbugs - graphic from DOHMH Healthy Homes bed bug guide

Not to understate things but you must realize that this is a vast improvement on the city’s previous bed bug fact sheet.

Here are some key messages that I like in this new publication:

  • It tells you one of the most important things you should know about bed bugs:

Some people do not react to bed bug bites.

  • It tells you that bed bugs are not your fault:

If you have bed bugs, you shouldn’t feel ashamed. Anyone can get bed bugs. Notify your landlord and neighbors. The sooner everyone responds, the more successful everyone will be.

  • It tells you not to use foggers and bombs in the only language that will mean anything to you in your desperate state:

Do not use pesticide bombs or foggers to control pests. They can make conditions worse.

  • It tells you that your efforts will help but does not lie to you and doesn’t shame you for not being able to get rid of bed bugs solely with a vacuum cleaner (like so many others do):

Cleaning and disinfecting will help to reduce bed bugs and their spread but may not get rid of them totally.

  • It recommends to landlords that they:

Notify tenants, and inspect all units adjacent to, above and below apartments found to have bed bugs.

If you’ve been around the bed bug block, I know exactly what you are thinking. I do. So here are some suggestions for you.

If you think the guide leaves out important information, or you have specific tips to share, take out a red pen! Call 311 and order a copy of the guide and then annotate it with your best tips and information before you give it to your friend, neighbor, acquaintance down the street. But please do share it. If you know there are bed bug problems in your neighborhood, share this guide with others. Spread the word and be a part of the solution and all that.

Now there is finally a city publication that can serve as a basic guide both to build awareness and to help the newly exposed.

Please share and build upon this effort. We’re all in this together. (Okay, I’ll stop before I tell you how moved I was to see this on the Health Department’s website.)

Please note that this guide, like the HPD bed bug course, was not developed by the Bed Bug Advisory Board. The advisory board is not a task force, remember?

Still, this is such important progress. You have no idea. Or maybe you do, and so I hope you will appreciate what this represents.

Here’s a screenshot of this I-never-thought-I’d-see-it development:

bed bugs on DOHMH home page

New bed bug guide on the city's Health Department website - February 5, 2010


  1. sam bryks

    Good stuff Renee…
    I had a look at this, and it reminded me that Woodgreen et al had created a tenant bed bug manual at the same time they put out Bed Bugs Are Back. Are you ready?
    I have had some differences with Woodgreen about some issues, but i can say that the tenant bed bug manual is really excellent.. very well done with images of all kinds of useful things, and the treatment of different key points is quite thorough. I would say that for a tenant information booklet it is quite exhaustive. Of course, there is a need for different forms of communications. For some, the length might be a bit too much, but it is a great resource for staff as well.
    I did check your post on the BBAB RYR review piece, and just did not see mention of the tenant manual. It is reminiscent of the excellent items at the Cornell IPM site.
    All of this stuff is good of course.
    There is still a need for good material to address the broader issues, but both of these pieces are very informative and do give the context of what needs to be done.

  2. Renee Corea

    Yes, the WoodGreen tenant manual is awesome. I neglected to write about it, I find, I guess I was too excited about the other reports. Thankfully, Lou reminded me of it and now it’s finally linked on the resources page.

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