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In bed bugs we trust Inc. The Bed Bug University Summit

Bed bug expert, David Cain of Bed Bugs Ltd, is recently hot-foot back from the second Bed Bug University Summit held in Chicago between 25-27 September and organised by the BedBug Central team. This is the second such event – the first, very well supported event – was held at virtually identical timings last year. The following report is an account of the event, as experienced by David.


On 24 September I headed off to Chicago for the second Bed-Bug University North American Summit - see full programme here. This second of such events, promised to be bigger and better than last year’s inaugural meeting. Promising to deliver the latest in the world of bed bug research, theories and products it set out to exceed last time’s experience. In some ways it managed to do this, but in others it failed in a truly spectacular way.

Although the US has seen a slow-down in the publicity surrounding bed bugs to the extent that they are no longer this season’s ‘must have’ retail accessory for all the trendy Manhattan and Broadway stores, they are still making a comeback in most States, even if they are not on the nightly news. Despite moving to a much larger venue with the hope of increased attendance over 2010’s sell out event, there appeared to be significantly fewer attendees this year with the main sessions appearing to be operating at about 15% of the venue’s capacity.

The social & psychological impact
Some content was new and innovative - most notably the international perspective covering the state of bed bugs in Canada, Australia and Europe. Also of note, was the psychological impact of bed bugs session by Dr Caleb Adler MD from the University of Cincinnati where he was joined on the platform by Robert Dold, US Congressman and Dr Michael Potter from the University of Kentucky. Also presenting new material was the research update from Richard Naylor of Sheffield University.

Some of the presentations, however, were little more than revamps of the information from last year, leaving attendees wondering if any research has actually been conducted in the last 12 months, or had the academics been enjoying celebrity status too much? One presenter even seemed to have been so busy as to not feel the need to update their presentation with the rather vital disclosure that they were in fact the co-author of the patent for the product which, surprisingly, excelled over all others tested. They even managed to report that one active monitoring product was less effective than a simple glue board. When pressed to disclose this vested interest in the product, which was the subject of their research, they failed to see the issue. Sadly this opinion was not shared neither the majority of the audience, nor the company whose product had just been slammed as not effective.

Not just bugs of the night
Sadly some of the leading academics are still labouring under the false impression that bed bugs are nocturnal, choosing not to acknowledged their occasional appearances in office, retail premises and public transport networks. They still favour the belief that if they feed while we sleep they must be vampiric creatures of the night.

Phil Cooper
Philip Cooper, of organiers BedBug Central, welcomes delegates

Speakers
The psychological impact of bed bugs session
(left to right) Robert Dold, Dr Michael Potter and
Dr Caleb Adler

Mascot
Looking cheerful - the event mascot!

The expo trade hall was pretty much sold out with an increase on last year’s offerings. Sadly, where new ideas and products were hoped for, the event attracted additional providers of 25B EPA exempt products (often little more than scented alcohol or detergent with no supporting efficacy data beyond contact killing) and ‘me too’ copies and clones of innovative products offering little value over what was already available from the original inventors. To this end there was a un-missable air of disappointment amongst some of the suppliers who confided that they are unlikely to return to the event if it occurs again.

One equipment provider quite literally lost the plot when they were overlooked by the media teams who were present and apparently needed to be calmed down by the BedBug Central team after declaring one of their competitors could not talk to the media because they owned the process of killing bed bugs with heat, and therefore they should be the only people to talk on TV.

Although I am sure there is need for a global bed bug focused meeting, I am no longer convinced that this is the format that it should take and will certainly be encouraging an event independent of the supply chain. An event where speakers are not given a stage to promote their own inventions and where products are discussed based on their efficacy and merits, rather than who gets a kickback on global sales.

I did express my concerns to the organisers but they assured me that this level of bias and distortion was the norm for the US pest control industry. Sadly they failed to appreciate that the fact that if others speed in their cars, this neither an excuse, nor a defence when you get caught speeding yourself. To that end I hope that someone picks up the mantel and organises a less biased academic exchange on bed bugs, or I will have to restrict my US trips to the NPMA events.

Midmos stand

US Cemtral stand

The exhibition area was packed-out. Flying the flag for the UK was Midmos Solutions (above left).
Platinum sponsor for the event was US Bedbugs (above right)

3 October 2011


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