An adult bedbug with several nymphs hiding under a recliner.
[UPDATED: Sen. Engler amended his earlier statement to clarify that it was a lobbyist for a landlord association who requested he file this bill, and not a request made by state health officials. Original post follows.]
Citing both an increase in the number of infestation reports in Missouri communities and a special request from state health officials, State Senator Kevin Engler (R-Farmington) introduced legislation yesterday that sets new standards for tenants and landlords when it comes to reporting bedbugs.
Engler's bill, SB846, requires tenants of a multi-family rental property to report bedbugs to the landlord within 48 hours of spotting them. The landlord has three weeks to inspect the property and then do something about the infestation. Tenants can not make legal claims against the landlord for any property damage resulting from infestation unless the landlord knows about the issue and chooses to do nothing.
Bedbugs live on blood -- yours, or your pets. They proliferate quickly, and can be difficult to exterminate. The Dulle-Hamilton Towers in Jefferson City, Missouri had a persistent outbreak in December of 2011, and an assisted living center for the mentally ill in Kansas City fought the insects in February of 2011. Missouri State University in Springfield had three cases in September of 2010, as well.
But how serious is Missouri's bedbug problem? I called the Missouri Department of Health for statistics, and they're currently tracking down the information and rustling up an expert to answer a few questions. While we're waiting, let's watch this informative video the University of Missouri put together that offers tips on how to avoid picking them up when you travel.