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County Health Department Called to Our Home

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 

Earlier today two workers from the County Department of Public Health came knocking on my door. I opened the door not knowing who they were (I have an ear infection and could not hear them when they identified themselves). They said they had received reports that our home has fleas and asked if they could do a "wellness/welfare check." They told me that I didn't have to let them in but if I didn't they would return later. I was caught off guard and agreed to let them come in


. I told them that yes we have been experiencing a problem with fleas for the last several months. We have two large dogs and they seem to have gotten them. I explained that we have been treating the dogs with flea baths and also using a topical treatment once a month on them. We also try to vacuum on a regular basis and keep the floors swept and mopped up as best we can which I explained to them and also told them that we had just treated the dogs again a week ago at the most.  But the dogs also like to go in and out of the kids room, and lay on or near their beds, so the fleas have gotten on to the kids' stuff. We've been contacted by the school once in September because our son had fleas in his hair (he has not since had a problem), and then earlier this week because our daughter had fleas in her hair. None of the kids have bites on them or anything like that.  So I am assuming either the kids' preschool teacher (they are in the same class) called or the school nurse called because both times I received a phone call from her.


The workers glanced around the living room which was fairly clean except for a couple loads of clean laundry that was sitting on the loveseat waiting to be folded, then they asked if they could see the kids' rooms. I agreed and showed them the boys' room. I have two boys ages 5 and 1.5 who share a room. They each have their own beds, their room was fairly clean (which the worker commented on). The 5 year old's bed didn't have any bedding on it because he had an accident, and there was a load of dirty laundry in the closet that I hadn't gotten around to taking downstairs to be washed yet. Then they checked out my 3 year old  daughter's room which her bed had bedding on it, but was a little messy because the kids dumped out some of their toys. Then they asked if they could see our room, which was a bit messy, the bed wasn't made or anything.


They asked if we had a problem with other bugs and I told them that we have a bedbug problem. We rent this house and shortly after we moved in I was finding bites on me. But since it was the middle of summer I assumed it was just mosquitoes. Then one night discovered a bedbug on our bed. I reported it to the property management and they basically told us that the house didn't have bedbugs when we moved in and that we must have brought them in. We never had a problem with them until we moved into this house. They said it was our responsibility to treat for them and that if we tried to hold them responsible for the treatment they would take us to court and we would wind up paying to treat the house plus all of the court costs, because they claimed other tenants have tried taking them to court and wound up losing. So we were intimidated into not reporting them or trying to take them to court, because we're on a month to month lease and didn't want to risk being evicted and we really can't afford to move into another house plus pay to replace our infested furniture (beds and a couple dressers). So we figured we'd just wait until we got our tax return then just pay for the treatment itself and replace the infested furniture then. I explained all this to the workers and they told us it was the landlord's responsibility to treat for them and said they would contact the property management for us and help us get them to treat it, which is great but I'm still worried about them retaliating against us. They took a couple pictures of our bedroom where they noticed a few bedbugs and that was it. 


Anyway after that they checked our kitchen which was pretty clean except for some dishes soaking in the sink and appeared to be testing the floor for soft or weak spots (which there are none), and then they were done. They didn't check our cupboards for food or anything like that and we do have running water, electricity,and heat. 


I'm also worried that since we've been turned in to the County Public Health Department, that CPS is going to become involved in this or that they already are. There were two workers both dressed in the same work uniform, and it was one male and one female. The male gave me his business card which identified him as being a supervisor with the health department and I didn't receive a card from the female.


They already had my husband's name, asked for mine, asked for our phone number and then said they would be in touch and left. So now I'm worried out of my mind as to what's going to happen next. I've never dealt with this before and I've never heard of the County Public Health Department coming out to inspect people's homes before and I have no idea how closely they are tied with CPS or if because of this CPS is going to be involved or is already involved. Immediately after they left I folded and put away all the laundry and got all of the dirty stuff down into the basement and started washing and drying it. So at least if they come back to reinspect the stuff will be in the basement. Honestly my house is usually in better shape but I just got done working an extra 15 hours and I'm sick so the laundry has gotten away from me a bit, but it's not like the house is a disaster and I know we have a problem with pests and bugs but we've been trying to deal with it and handle it the best we can on an extremely limited budget. My DH wasn't home when all this happened but I spoke to him about it. I have to work for the next 3 days so I just told him to try and keep the house as clean as possible in case they come back out or if CPS comes out, other than that I have no idea what else to do and I'm worried about what's going to come next. Does anyone have any experience or advice dealing with this? (My apologies for the rambling novel). 

Edited by wrigley1985 - 11/23/13 at 3:45am
post #2 of 9
All I can say is I'm sorry you are dealing with this. Fleas SUCK (no pun intended). Once they take hold its so hard to control them. Same for bed bugs I've heard. The vacuum is your friend for sure. You may want to see if there is a different flea med for the dogs because they should work better than what you're experiencing.

Your house sounds cleaner than mine. I wouldn't worry about CPS. Even if they get called out I doubt they will do anything other than talk to you about pest control. Just think what they must see on a daily basis! They have bigger fish to fry.

If I were you I would call the guy when you are calm and ask any questions you might have. Good luck!!!
post #3 of 9
Apparently putting a flea collar into your vacumm cleaner canister/bag is a good way to help deal with fleas.
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 

Yeah the medicine should be working better than what it is, I will say that it has helped out a lot, but it hasn't completely eliminated the problem. We were going to buy either Frontline or K9 Advantix because I read those were the two best medicines to combat fleas. But when we went to the store we were unable to find either one, so we wound up buying this other brand called Pet Armor. We figured it couldn't hurt to try,even though we'd read mixed reviews about it online. We also flea bombed the entire house, but we didn't know we'd need to bomb the basement too, so we only bought 1 pack which was enough to do the upstairs but not the basement and my DH just told me they are still in the basement.


So I guess our next steps are to go to the store and buy 2 more packs of flea bombs and bomb both the upstairs and the downstairs. There is also an animal clinic near us that helps low income families with pets, so I'm going to see if they can't help us with a flea dip and/or getting the flea medicine at a cheaper price, plus it will also establish a paper trail to prove that we're trying to get rid of the problem. I will also try buying a flea collar and putting it in our vacuum canister, it can't hurt to try. 

post #5 of 9
You probably also have them in the yard. Look up how to use diatomateous earth (sp?). Food grade is fairly safe for pets and people. Good luck.
post #6 of 9

I'm sorry this happened to you. :-( How scary. Makes me mad because I see so many abused children come into the hospital where I work and CPS was too busy to investigate or follow up on them, and then someone calls about your bug problem. Really irks me.


Anyway, we had a serious tick infestation several years ago when dd was small. After trying things on our own, we ended up hiring a pest company and forked out a lot of $$ for them to do the yard and house at the same time. It was a real pain. But we got a contract that guaranteed they would continue to come out until the problem was fixed for no extra money. We had to call them back twice more. While they were taking care of our property, we took the dog to the groomers for a professional dip and de-ticking. Otherwise the dog would just keep making the problem come back.


I really feel for you.

post #7 of 9

Okay, this will help with ALL the bugs...........You want something called diatomaceous earth. Now there are two kinds, you want the one that is FOOD GRADE! You will need to search the internet for this food grade stuff.  It's a white powder............as any bug inhales it, the white powder is like little shards of glass that pretty much kill them from the inside out. (We used it for ticks)....This stuff SHOULD NOT BE POURED ON THE RUGS....instead, it should be very very lightly sprinkled...on rugs, on beds, and you can even lightly sprinkle it on the dogs too! I stress 'lightly sprinkle' bc I got so freaked out about some ticks in our house that I POURED the powder on our carpets and left it there for about a week....and burned out two vacuum cleaners! I think I must have put down about 10 pounds of powder on the carpets, and it took at least five runs with the vacuum to get up most of the powder.  But it sure did work!! A shop vac works great....OR, rent a carpet cleaner when you are done. Put it on the carpets in the morning after the kids leave for school (don't let them inhale the powder.....it shouldn't harm them but you don't want to make them uncomfortable either)..........leave it on for a few hours and vacuum it up. Do it every day if you need to.........(Get one of those tiny containers of carpet freshener from the store...the kind that has a few holes in the top that you sprinkle on the carpet..........toss it out and fill it with the diatomaceous earth. You can sprinkle it on the mattresses, on the dogs, and even teh food grade kind can be sprinkled in water and you can drink it........gets rid of parasites. You can also put it outside if it's not raining.........in the yard, around the windows, on the boarder of the foundation, etc. If you use it outdoors and it's windy, just wear eye protection, etc. I can't think of the best place to buy it, but do your own research. Hopefully this will take care of the problem ASAP. 

post #8 of 9
You can buy Diatomaceous Earth at a Farm and Garden store. It should not be inhaled so please wear a mask when you put it down and make sure to vacuum it ALL up. What it does is actually destroys the bugs' exoskeletons, but it won't destroy the eggs so you will have to treat more than once. IDK, for something this severe I might consider resorting to something less natural.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 

We have a bag of the food grade Diatomaceous Earth and we have been treating the house with that. I didn't know we could use the stuff in the yard though so I'll have to sprinkle it out in the yard as well.


The main problem with the fleas is that they are still living on the dogs even though we applied a topical treatment (Pet Armor). It is supposed to be good for 30 days, but we're finding that it seems to be losing its effectiveness after 1-2 weeks. Whenever we notice that the dogs are scratching again then we give them a bath and use the Dawn Blue dishwashing soap which kills them immediately. We've used two different brands of flea shampoo and neither one seemed to help but the Dawn seems to be working the best.


We're not finding fleas on our furniture or blankets and they aren't living in our carpet, but since they're on our dogs, and our dogs are around the kids they seem to be going from the dogs straight to the kids. The dogs were sleeping under the baby's crib and on my 5 year old's bed when they weren't there so I have since started keeping the boys' room completely closed off (except when they are in there playing) and that seems to have eliminated the flea problem from their room. I think the fleas have become an issue in my 3 year old DD's room because she insists on having one of the dogs sleep in her room at naptime and bedtime. But I told my DH that needs to stop until the fleas are completely eliminated because we want to minimize her exposure to them while we're attempting to eliminate the problem. 


Today I went and downloaded the application for the low cost vet clinic and filled it out. The soonest we can turn it in is Monday. If they accept our application then we would be eligible for $10 vet visits, $5 follow up exams and flea and heartworm medication for $5 per month per dog, so that would help out tremendously. Right now I don't have the money to be able to afford Frontline, K9 Advantix, or to pay for an exterminator to come out to our house.


Now for the bed bugs, we have been fighting a long battle against those. We've been using 90% rubbing alcohol on the beds, dressers, and bed frames which kills them on contact but does nothing to actually prevent them. We've also been using Diatamaceous Earth to treat the bed frames, and the beds, in addition to regularly washing all of the bedding and curtains in hot water and drying on high heat. That is all that I can afford to do. I have told the property management company about the problem and they immediately went on the defensive and said there was no way the house was already infested before we moved in and they claim the house was bed bug free before we moved in. But I never signed any paper stating that and as I mentioned earlier we had no problems with them at our previous house. The property managers have pretty much said that we brought them in so it's our responsibility to treat for them. So we were prepared to pay for the treatment ourselves (I read that heat treatment is the most effective), and we called several different extermination companies. We were told it was going to be $1300 to treat the house and basement and that we would need to pay the entire amount up front, and they didn't offer payment plans of any type because we're not the home owners, just renters. So we told the property managers this and asked if they would be willing to let us defer 1 month's rent and then we pay them back over a couple months, and they refused to even do that. I tried to apply for a personal loan with my credit union to get the problem taken care of that way and was denied for a loan. So we've tried to get an exterminator ourselves but because we don't have $1300 in hand we're out of luck there. I hope that the very least the County Public Health Department is able to get the property managers to take care of that issue without them turning around and retaliating against us. I know that by reporting this to the Health Department it paints us in a more unfavorable light and we're running the risk of losing our home and having to replace some of our furniture but we haven't had any luck trying to deal with this on our own plus I'm tired of fighting the bed bugs and now the fleas on top of it and now the County Health Department is involved in it to who knows what degree and how it will affect our kids, and really I'm just tired of fighting all these battles on our own with no help from anyone and very little money. I just hope the Health Department actually offers some help and solves more problems than it creates at this point. 

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