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Ouch! Bedbugs Making Senior's Life Miserable

CHICAGO (CBS) -- This is a story about bloodsuckers. But it is not a Halloween vampire tale.

This one is about bedbugs -- so many of them, they've made a Chicago woman's life miserable. And she's not the only one suffering in her high rise apartment building.

Hollywood House at Sheridan and Hollywood looks like a nice apartment tower for seniors. But resident Kathy Vukmanic noticed the bed bugs right after she moved in last spring.

"I woke up going nuts, just itching," she told CBS 2's Mike Parker.

She's killed and saved hundreds of them, stuck on cellophane tape and stored them in several prescription bottles. She's taken photos of her countless bites. She's afraid to buy a bed, so she sleeps on a sofa that's now infested. Her clothing is in plastic bags, and everything in her cupboard is wrapped in plastic.

They get in the food, she says.

"It's unpleasant. I've never been through anything so awful, and I've lost about 20 pounds, give or take a few."

The management of her building is planning to meet with all 200 tenants next week to talk about the problem.

The technical director of the Smithereen Pest Management firm in Niles has her own collection of bedbugs in bags and under her microscope. Combating this nationwide outbreak is keeping Sara Kantarovich busy.

"Every single day, I eat bed bugs, I drink bed bugs, I dream bed bugs," she says.

Her advice for apartment building owners and managers: Get a complete inspection of the building and mount a professional "attack program."

She advises apartment dwellers to put infested clothing in hot dryers -- at least 120 degrees hot. They should also have their mattresses and box springs steam cleaned at 120 degrees at a minimum.

Kantarovich warns that bed bugs are tough.

"If you talk to people who've been in pest control for 30 or 40 years, they say the game used to be a lot more fun -- before bedbugs," she says.

Reports of bedbug infestation are increasing dramatically, every day. They're now being found in offices and schools as people take the little bloodsuckers out of their homes on their clothing, in their briefcases and book bags.

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