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Chicago Ranks as Worst Bed Bug City

Published: Monday, May 5, 2014 10:21 a.m. CDT

By Sally Deneen

Chicago gets a bad rap for being dubbed the nation's worst bed bug city for the second consecutive year, as based on the number of treatments performed by Orkin pest control. But the website BedBugRegistry.com suggests another region far outstrips Chicagoland in the creepy-crawly department. The New York metro area cumulatively has drawn eight times more complaints – more than 4,000 – from consumers and renters who vent, typically anonymously, on the registry's website.

Of course, the city of Chicago admits bed bugs "have become more problematic," possibly due to such factors as bed bugs’ resistance to pesticides and people travelling increasingly to far-flung places and bringing them home, according to CityofChicago.org. The city offers downloadable fact sheets on what to do in various languages – English, Polish, Spanish and French.

Kansas City ranks last among 50 cities in Orkin's ratings, and BedBugRegistry.com as of February listed no complaints about K.C.'s lodgings.

Bed bugs don't spread disease, experts say, though bites can produce welts on the skin of sensitive people. The fast-multiplying tiny pests are tremendously tough to banish and hard to see.

"Unless an infestation is severe, you may not see bed bugs crawling out in the open. They prefer to hide in sheltered areas until they come out to feed," stated the Ohio Department of Health.

Rounding out Orkin's top 5 worst cities for bed bugs are No. 2 Los Angeles (which climbed one spot over the past year), followed by Columbus, Ohio (up three spots), Detroit (down two spots) and fifth-place Cincinnati.

BedBugRegistry.com admits it can't be sure that complaints posted on its site are true. "We can't - this is the Internet!" reads its FAQs. "…We do our best to flag posts that have been disputed, but we remind our readers to take things with a grain of salt. Some reports are posted by malicious tenants. Some are posted by evil competitors. Some are posted by hypochondriacs." Still, it's "a great resource," contends SmarterTravel.com.

The U.S. is among "many countries now experiencing an alarming resurgence in the population of bed bugs," according to a joint statement by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Among reasons, they say, is "the continuing decline or elimination of effective vector/pest control programs at state and local public health agencies."

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