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Political Bookworm
Posted at 11:23 AM ET, 03/25/2011

More bed bugs are biting — and even ex-presidents aren’t immune


New York City's bedbugs have climbed out of bed and boldly marched into places like the Empire State Building, Bloomingdales and Lincoln Center, causing fresh anxiety among New Yorkers and tourists alike. New Yorkers have to deal with them in the workplace, while tourists planning trips are frantic about how to avoid getting bitten and bringing home the bloodsucking pests. (AP Photo/Orkin LLC, File)
In his new book, “The Bed Bug Survival Guide,” Jeff Eisenberg claims there is “no more than three degrees of separation between you and someone with bed bugs.”

The situation must be getting bad because a federal interagency task force was formed to figure out how to kill the tiny bloodsuckers. This February, the Bed Bug Federal Working Group — co-chaired by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Environmental Protection Agency — held their second two-day summit meeting in Washington. (The first summit was in April 2009.) According to one estimate, bed bug presence has increased by 70 percent since 2007.

But Eisenberg, who first encountered bed bugs in 1996 at a Manhattan hostel and went on to co-author the city’s official guidelines for bed bug treatment, is here to show us how to defend ourselves from these parasites that can “fit into any crack the width of a business card.”

The “bed bug expert” gives us 10 chapters worth of prevention and treatment tips. (FYI: You can now buy a product called the Seat Defender, “which acts like a condom for your movie or airplane seat.”)

There’s also a timeline of significant moments in creepy crawler history. Listed on the timeline -- and proving that the pest has moved beyond dirty group houses and cheap motels -- was the August 2009 revelation that President Bill Clinton was battling bed bugs at his office in Harlem.

Who was Clinton gonna call? Eisenberg, of course.

Of that fateful August day, Eisenberg writes diary-like: “My company and I couldn’t be happier to help out the former president when members of his staff call us in.”

As he explains, ridding offices of bed bugs has a unique set of challenges.

“Office bed bugs don’t cling to the obvious spaces likes beds in your home,” he writes. “Since people at work are generally moving, bed bugs adapt by hanging out in cubicle walls, books, files, in interoffice envelopes, chairs, and in picture frames. It means you can’t do a check for [bed bug] blood or feces the way you can on your mattress.”

By  |  11:23 AM ET, 03/25/2011

 
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