Bed bugs infest Cleveland apartments, Liberian refugees given health department help

Tenants-landlords must work together for solution

CLEVELAND - Jamu Koue is a Liberian refugee, who is trying to raise five grandchildren in Cleveland. But an outbreak of bed bugs in her apartment complex has made it especially difficult.

Koue speaks very little English, and has been receiving support from Soul Fuel of Cleveland, an after-school program dedicated toward helping families integrate into life in the United States.

Soul Fuel Program coordinator Becky Trout has witnessed the severe bed bug bites on the grandchildren, and contacted NewsChannel5's Troubleshooter Unit in search of help.

"I was really upset to find out about it, especially since it's been going on for so long," said Trout. "The children have been sleeping outside, and they have a lot of bites on the them and they itch."

Trout said the owner of the West 65th Street apartment building needs to do more to solve the problem. Kapa Nyonee, 11, explained what she and the other grandchildren have been dealing with for the past several months.

"We don't even sleep at night. Every second we close our eyes, or turn off the light, there's going to be something biting at you. When we turn the light back on, we find a bed bug with a lot of blood in it."

NewsChannel5 contacted the Cleveland Department of Health and apartment owner Florin Dragan about this ongoing battle with bed bugs. The health department sent inspectors to the scene within 24 hours, and are now seeking a court order to insure all apartment units are cleaned and properly treated. 

Inspectors will also remove all furniture and mattresses from the complex, cite the building owner, and tenants will be ordered to follow proper hygiene and extermination procedures.

Building owner Florin Dragan explained he's done plenty to deal with the situation, buying the proper chemicals and a high-tech steamer to help tenants fight the infestation. Dragan agreed to step up his efforts to help, and work with the health department to find a solution.

"I will do my best to solve the situation, but they have to try too," said Dragan.

Information on how to stop bed bugs can be found on the Ohio Department of Health website .

NewsChannel5 and newsnet5.com will continue to follow-up on this developing story.

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