By CLINT FOSTER
One Mineral Wells apartment complex for elderly and disabled residents is hoping to put an end to an extended saga with bedbugs that has plagued some of its residents.
Sandstone Foothills and its residents have been fighting a seemingly never-ending battle with the blood-sucking creatures for over two years, according to an anonymous source who has a relative living in the complex and frequently visits both for work and personal purposes. The source said she has confirmed between eight and nine infected cases within the complex recently and alerted the Mineral Wells branch of the Texas Department of State Health Services. A representative from the Health Department, in turn, told the Index they have since reported the case to the Texas Department of Family Protective Services which is “looking into it.”
Apartment Manager Becky Reedy declined to comment on the situation; however, Vice President of Communications Karen Twinem of National Church Residences – the Columbus, Ohio-based, national company that owns the complex – said the company is waiting for a bid from Orkin Pest and Termite Control to treat the entire building, including all common areas.
“We’re trying to be aggressive in dealing with this issue,” Twinem said. “We have a national contract with Orkin to make sure we do that as quickly as possible.”
Twinem said the complex first dealt with the problem in 2012, when three units were found to be infected and were treated. Since then, Orkin exterminators have regularly visited the complex, leading to the most recent discovery of bugs in one specific unit.
Twinem said they will wait to see what Orkin recommends when they submit their bid before they determine what kind of treatment is necessary for the building – whether that be with heat or a more conventional spray treatment.
The Index’s anonymous source said so far the complex has been spraying individually infected units, causing the bugs to simply move around and infect new areas.
“It’s a vicious cycle,” she said. “(Treating the whole building) is expensive, but it needs to be done. When I’m 70 or 80, I don’t want to have to worry about sharing my space with bedbugs. They shouldn’t have to either.”
Linda Neblitt, a resident of Sandstone Foothills, said she has had bedbugs in her apartment since April of last year. She said it’s the second time since she first lived in the complex that she has shared a room with the insects.
“I’ve been getting a lot of bites,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of itching going on. I can’t sleep at night. I dread getting into my bed.”
This has been the second reported large-scale bedbug infection in Mineral Wells this year, as the Index reported on another bedbug epidemic in an apartment complex on the southeast side of town. National Church Residences is hopeful that with a full-scale assault, they can nip their problem in the bud and put it in their past.
A Spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services, Carrie Williams, told the Index that bedbugs, while a nuisance, are “not considered a threat to public health because they have not been shown to transmit disease.”
However, she added that anyone in Mineral Wells who is concerned about them should be on the lookout.
“Bedbugs obviously are a nuisance and you want to make sure you look for them if there is a concern,” she sad. “They like to hide in places like crevices in furniture and along seams of bedding.
“They are visible to the human eye: small, brown and about the size and shape of an apple seed.”
Williams said that anyone concerned about a bite, whether from a bedbug or any other insect, should check with their local healthcare provider.