HARARE City Council’s health department on Saturday fumigated Mbare hostels following an outbreak of bedbugs.
Bedbugs, widely known as “tsikidzi,” are small, reddish brown, flattened, wingless insects that feed on human blood and warm-blooded animals, usually at night.
They are transported via luggage, clothing, bedding, furniture and human bodies.
Bedbugs lay eggs in mattresses, bed frames, floorboards and walls.
Acting city epidemiologist, Dr Michael Vere, said the department acted on the issue after it was reported in the media.
“We are here as Harare City health department and we are spraying what we call bedbugs and ‘tsikidzi’ in Shona,” he said.
“The infestation on Mbare hostels, particularly Matererini, was reported in the media and we had to respond and fumigate swiftly.
“We came here a few days ago, took some samples and those samples showed that the place was infested so we had to come back to fumigate the area.
“We are starting with Matererini, and we are spraying in each and every household, corridors and bathroom.”
Dr Vere said the exercise will be carried out at other hostels.
“We are going to be fumigating all the hostels in Mbare and this is not the end of our exercise, we will be coming regularly to check on the welfare of people,” he said.
Residents of Materini flats thanked the Council for responding to their plight.
“City Council came to fumigate the flats and we are happy because we have been struggling as residents of these flats, since yesterday everything is going on well,” said one resident, identified as Baba Tino.
“We have encountered several challenges, which include people not being able to move from one place to the other because the chemicals are very strong but other than that we are happy with everything that is happening.
“We are hoping that programmes and exercises like these will continue to take place regularly.”
The residents, through their Mbare Cousins Community Trust (MCCT) spokesperson, Happymore Kunaka, last week said they noticed the outbreak three months ago.
He said the bedbugs were out of control.
Kunaka added that over the past weeks, they tried to use various chemicals to eliminate the bedbugs, but the situation had not changed.
“Last week, we used a certain chemical and it helped eliminate some of the bedbugs.
“However, we believe the bedbugs had laid many eggs which hatched after we fumigated and there was re-infestation,” he revealed.
He added that the bedbugs were a result of overcrowding and poor hygiene.
Second-hand clothes traders, he claimed, could also have contributed to the outbreak.
“Apart from burst sewer pipes, which are not being attended to by the Harare City Council, we also blame traders of second-hand clothes, who store their wares in the flats.
“We believe they contributed to importation of the bed bugs,” Kunaka said.