Plan being considered to combat the spread of bed bugs in Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE, Ind. – Martinsville city officials are considering a plan to fight the spread of bed bugs by requiring discarded mattresses be wrapped in sealed plastic bags.

“Bed bugs in this county and the state are on the rise,” said Martinsville City Council member, Ben Merida. “Nationwide they’re on the rise, so different communities are seeing this problem more and more.”

Martinsville Mayor, Shannon Kohl, says she has heard from police officers, firefighter and EMTs about frequent encounters with bed bugs when responding to homes.

“They’ve made us aware of the issue and that the issue is not going away, and that it’s only going to continue to get worse,” Kohl said.

Merida says he brought the idea to the council after talking with his sister, who works in the medical field. He wants the city to develop a comprehensive educational platform, primarily focused on helpful information posted on the city’s website. The information would provide residents with practical ways to prevent and eliminate bedbugs in their homes.

“What we’re seeing is that we have families that are infested with bed bugs, that don’t have the resources to take care of the issue itself,” Merida said.

The plan would also include a requirement that any resident setting out a mattress to be picked up on bulk trash pickup day must first wrap the mattress in a sealed plastic bag.

“So we’re talking about maybe providing those here at city hall for people to purchase to be able to set their mattresses out on those heavy trash days,” Mayor Kohl said. “If someone does leave a mattress out for our guys to pick up, and it is not in a plastic sealed bag, we probably will not pick it up.”

City employee John Williams says he often encounters mattresses left on curbsides that are infested with the blood-sucking hitchhikers.

“It got to the point where you’d see them crawling over the mattresses, clothes, you’d see them everywhere,” Williams said.

Williams hopes the plan will pass, and reduce the risk of him bringing bed bugs home to his own family.

“As soon as I get home, my clothes go straight into the wash immediately,” he said. “They don’t get to lay around in the laundry hamper, it’s the first load goes straight in. My wife already knows.”

Merida says he and other city leaders are consulting with the city attorney to draft language for an ordinance. It could be January before an official proposal goes before the city council, he said.

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