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

Prabhu Gounder, Nancy Ralph, Andrew Maroko, Lorna Thorpe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1076-1086
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 25 2014


  • Bedbugs
  • Environmental health
  • Epidemiology
  • Public housing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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