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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Bedbugs on the Tube?

If you see people itching on your journey, chances are they read yesterday's
Evening Standard about the possibility of bedbugs on London Underground seats.

Lola the bedbug dog - Evening Standard


Apparently there was a "bedbug pandemic" in New York last September, which led the Standard to track down a dog, (her name is Lola), who seeks out bedbugs in hotels in the UK. The reporter (who had bedbugs in his Tooting flat) sent Lola on a Tube journey to sniff out the carriages.  A senior figure in the pest control industry, who didn't wish to be named, said that the Tube was a home for bedbugs. He said: "I'm aware of the Northern line having a problem but it's not just one line, it's the Piccadilly line, Central line and others as well. Just as with the outbreak in New York, anywhere like the Tube could transfer bedbugs on to people"

You'll be pleased to hear that Lola didn't conclusively track down any bugs on her journey on the Northern Line. Clive Boase who runs the Pest Management Consultancy, urged people not to overreact and said "I'm not saying there aren't any bedbugs on the Tube but it's far from common." Although bedbugs.co.uk claims public transport is a "potential source" and in the "Control Steps needed" for minimising the risk on public transport, it helpfully advises in its development protocol: "Do not sit down. Stand or get a shooting stick."

Fortunately the  reporter, doesn't seem to think we should get in an order of shooting sticks for our Tube commutes anytime soon. Apparently, TfL have been "made aware of specific outbreaks but had failed to give complainants evidence that it had taken action to resolve the problem".

Pigeon on Tube Seat - Hammersmith & City Line
Look out for a report on bird flu from Tube Seats!!


This all reminds me of the time when a spokesperson from TfL was interviewed on LBC radio in 2002, countering an urban myth & emails making the rounds about what scientists had supposedly found on Tube seats on the Central Line.
"4 types of hair sample (human, mouse, rat, dog)
7 types of insect (mostly fleas, mostly alive)
Vomit originating from at least 9 separate people
Human urine originating from at least 4 separate people
Human excrement
Rodent excrement
Human semen

And when the seats were taken apart, they found:
"The remains of 6 mice
The remains of 2 large rats
1 previously unheard of fungus"

The spokesperson said "It is false. We followed that through and it's entirely fictitious, and as I said, in fact, when it comes to cleanliness, we’ve actually seen a 4 point improvement in the last year, and there's no truth at all in those suggestions."

Let's hope Bob Crow doesn't use the Standard article as a reason to call a Tube strike to protect his members from bites.


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