Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 91, Issue 6, pp 1076–1086 | Cite as

Bedbug Complaints among Public Housing Residents—New York City, 2010–2011

  • Prabhu Gounder
  • Nancy Ralph
  • Andrew Maroko
  • Lorna Thorpe


Few studies have evaluated population-level risk factors for having a bedbug infestation. We describe characteristics associated with bedbug complaints among New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) residents. Unique households receiving bedbug extermination services in response to a complaint during January 1, 2010 to December 31, 2011 were identified from NYCHA’s central facilities work order database. We examined associations between household characteristics and having a bedbug complaint using a generalized estimating equation Poisson regression model, accounting for clustering by housing development. Of the 176,327 NYCHA households, 11,660 (6.6 %) registered a bedbug complaint during 2010–2011. Bedbug complaints were independently associated with households having five or more children versus no children (prevalence ratio [PR] = 2.0), five or more adults versus one adult (PR = 1.6), a head of household (HOH) with impaired mobility (PR = 1.3), a household member receiving public assistance (PR = 1.2), a household income below poverty level (PR = 1.1), and a female HOH (PR = 1.1). Infestations were less likely to be reported by households with employed members (PR = 0.9), and an HOH aged 30–44 years (PR = 0.9) or 45–61 years (PR = 0.9), compared with an HOH aged 18–29 years. These results indicate that bedbug control efforts in public housing should be targeted toward households with low income and high occupancy.


Bedbugs Public housing Epidemiology Environmental health 



The authors thank Calcedonio Bruno, Anthony Porcelli, and Luis Ponce for their insights into the pest management and tenant complaint management procedures at NYCHA. We acknowledge Tamara Dumanovksy and Anne-Marie Flatley for abstracting the data for analysis from NYCHA’s administrative database and providing feedback on the manuscript. We acknowledge Sharon Balter, Marci Layton, and Julie Magri for their guidance in the design of the study and reviewing drafts of the manuscript.


The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the New York City Housing Authority.

Funding source

New York Public Housing Authority and City University of New York School of Public Health at Hunter College


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Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine (outside the USA) 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Prabhu Gounder
    • 1
  • Nancy Ralph
    • 2
  • Andrew Maroko
    • 3
  • Lorna Thorpe
    • 2
  1. 1.Arctic Investigations ProgramCenters for Disease Control and PreventionAnchorageUSA
  2. 2.Epidemiology and Biostatistics ProgramCity University of New York School of Public Health at Hunter CollegeNew YorkUSA
  3. 3.Department of Earth, Environmental, and Geospatial SciencesCity University of New York School of Public Health at Lehman CollegeNew YorkUSA

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