Metro Health says bed bug infestation 'Worst it's ever handled'

North Side apartment for seniors, disabled covered in bed bugs and roaches

By Chris Shadrock - Web - News Producer, Jessie Degollado - Reporter

SAN ANTONIO - The Metropolitan Health District is calling it the worst bed bug infestation it’s ever seen.

Thursday, San Antonio Code Compliance and Metro Health were outside the Aurora Apartments which are infested with bed bugs. The apartments are located in one of the city’s oldest high rises on the near North Side infested with bed bugs.

The Aurora is privately owned, but its residents who are seniors and the disabled, receive federal Section 8 rental assistance.

After inspecting the one-time depression-era hotel on Monday, Carol Schliesinger, spokeswoman for Metro Health, said the agency found "a gross infestation of bed bugs and cockroaches."

The owner, Aurora LLC, was given a notice to abate the problem with Metro Health monitoring the process.

“We are going to have to vacate our apartments for a day and move our furniture around,” one resident, who asked not to be identified for fear of being evicted, said. “I have already gotten rid of a whole lot of my possessions.”

He said the problem began years ago, but residents were only given spray cans of pesticides.

“It should not have gotten to this point where now we have to disrupt our lives,” he said.

Men in hazmat gear near the rear of the building were seen Thursday tossing out garbage bags filled with personal items of sentimental value, bedding, clothing and anything else that could have become infested.

Resident described being unable to sleep because they're being bitten by bed bugs that they've also seen crawling down the hall, in the air ducts, drains and laundry room.

The parasites are known as "hitchhikers" because they can hop on anything and everything.

“Out of 10, I would say maybe eight or nine,” Adrian Lopez said. The Houston pest control company he works for was brought into help exterminate the bugs.

Based on his expertise, Lopez said he agreed the problem is bad, but manageable.

"It is 100 percent controllable," he said. "It might not cure itself overnight, but it is something that we are going to handle and stay on top of.”

Lopez said the company will be making weekly visits after the treatments are completed, hopefully by Monday. Although Schliesinger said that could be subject to change depending on what else they find.

Lopez added per state law governing the use of chemicals, residents will have to vacate their apartments, at least for a few hours, while his technicians treat the affected areas.

"We are treating all the cracks and crevices and just doing a surface treatment," he said.

The manager of the building was unavailable for comment, but KSAT was told by a spokeswoman for the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development, "We are concerned for the residents' health and safety. We will continue to work with the management and the city of San Antonio to make certain the issues are resolved."

Schliesinger said the city will be providing the residents meals, bedding and other basic necessities such as hygiene kits. She also said Metro Health is offering to teach them how to prevent any re-infestation.

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