Bed bugs Sheffield: Mum's three-year 'nightmare' as council housing infestation costs her everything

Her ordeal shows no signs of ending, with numerous treatments having failed to provide a lasting solution
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A 'desperate' Sheffield mum has described her three-year 'nightmare' bed bug ordeal which shows no signs of ending.

Beatriz Almeida has lived with her two sons within the same council housing block in Lowedges since 2015.

Some photos of the bed bugs found at Beatriz Almeida's home in Lowedges, SheffieldSome photos of the bed bugs found at Beatriz Almeida's home in Lowedges, Sheffield
Some photos of the bed bugs found at Beatriz Almeida's home in Lowedges, Sheffield
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They were happy there until one morning in November 2020 when she woke and saw a bug on a pillow.

She had no idea what it was at the time but soon she and her sons started getting more and more bites on their bodies, which were 'painful and extremely itchy'.

"One Sunday morning my oldest woke up and he was covered with bites," she told The Star. "I thought it has to be coming from the bed, so I checked it and found hundreds of bugs in his bed. I searched online and finally identified what they were."

Ms Almeida contacted Sheffield Council and they sent someone out but even after seven or eight treatments the bed bugs never disappeared.

Furniture and carpets thrown out

Bed bugs on the furniture at Beatriz Almeida's home in Lowedges, SheffieldBed bugs on the furniture at Beatriz Almeida's home in Lowedges, Sheffield
Bed bugs on the furniture at Beatriz Almeida's home in Lowedges, Sheffield
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She told how she had to throw out all their furniture and carpets as everything was infested, and she struggled to sleep due to her anxiety.

"We were left sleeping in one bedroom with our mattresses on the floor," she said. "No beds, no sofa, no furniture apart from the mattresses, a cooker and a washer and that was it.

"We lived like this for over two years. We couldn't go to anyone's house, or bring anyone to ours. There were no sleepovers, which my boys loved. We could not even socialise with our family."

Ms Almeida had a 'gut feeling' the bed bugs were coming from the property above but despite 'begging' the council to check she says no one ever did.

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Eventually, in June last year, she said the tenants above her left some furniture in the communal area which she checked and found was riddled with bed bugs.

The council started treating the property above, as well as hers, and by September 2023 she thought she was finally bed bug free and started buying new furniture.

But a couple of weeks ago she says she found a single bed bug coming from a crack in her bathroom ceiling, and since then she has discovered dozens more.

'I can't go through this nightmare again'

A bedbug at Beatriz Almeida's council home in Lowedges, SheffieldA bedbug at Beatriz Almeida's council home in Lowedges, Sheffield
A bedbug at Beatriz Almeida's council home in Lowedges, Sheffield

When the council contacted the tenants above, they confirmed the bed bugs were back, despite having not having informed the council themselves before then, and she is now worried the bugs will never be eradicated.

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She has asked to be moved as she 'can't go through this nightmare again', but she says the council refused saying that would only be possible if its environmental services team declared the property 'uninhabitable'.

"The environmental services team won't be able to live what we are living," she said.

"The bites. The itch. The infestation. All belongings gone. Our mental and physical health affected. They will never know.

"I'm truly, truly desperate. I don't know what to do."

What has the council said?

Councillor Douglas Johnson, chair of Sheffield Council's Housing Policy Committee, said: "We know how distressing it must be for anyone to be experiencing bed bugs in their home.

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"We have been treating the property and the surrounding properties, and we will continue with treatment until the issue is resolved.

"Our housing officers are offering ongoing support for any residents affected until all the works are complete."

What are bed bugs, how do you know if you have them and how bad are the bites?

Bed bugs are small insects which often live on furniture or bedding but can also be found in other places including on clothing, behind pictures and under loose wallpaper.

They can be dark yellow, red or brown, with adults measuring around 5mm long. According to the NHS, their bites can be itchy but do not usually cause other health problems.

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Tell-tale signs of bed bugs include bites, often on exposed areas of skin like the face, neck and arms, while sleeping; spots of blood on your bedding (from the bites or a squashed bed bug); and small brown spots (bed bug poo) on your bedding or furniture.

Bed bug bites usually clear up on their own but to help reduce itching and any swelling you can put something cool, like a clean, damp cloth, on the affected area. People are also advised to avoid scratching the bites to prevent getting an infection.

If the bites are really bothering you, you can seek advice from a pharmacist about getting a mild steroid cream like hydrocortisone (children under 10 and pregnant women should get advice from a doctor before using hydrocortisone cream) or using antihistamines.

What should you do avoid getting bed bugs and to get rid of them?

The NHS advises anyone who thinks they have bed bugs to contact their local council or pest control service as it is very difficult to get rid of bed bugs yourself.

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Things you can do include washing bedding and clothes at a high temperature (60C), putting affected bedding and clothes in a plastic bag and storing it in the freezer for three to four days, and cleaning and vacuuming regularly to help you spot bed bugs early.

People are advised to avoid keeping clutter around their beds, not to bring second-hand furniture indoors without carefully checking it first, and to check luggage or clothing carefully before bringing it indoors if you have come from somewhere known to be affected by bed bugs.

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