05/14/2013 12:37 EDT | Updated 07/14/2013 05:12 EDT

Montreal's bedbug infestation totals creeping downward

Montreal's bedbug problem seems to be stabilizing.

City and public health officials detailed the results of the second year of an action plan launched to fight the rising number of infestations in Montreal.

According to public health, 2.2 per cent of the households on the island of Montreal that were surveyed reported having a bedbug problem in 2012.

That's down from 2.8 per cent that reported an infestation the year before.

Five years ago, Montreal saw an explosion in the number of bedbug infestations, a problem exacerbated in the summer around the time of the annual moving season.

In 2011, a large-scale awareness campaign was launched and more than 2,000 sealable plastic bags were distributed to encourage citizens to contain any infected mattresses.

The city is crediting an amendment made to its residential sanitation and maintenance bylaw, which requires pest control managers to report bedbug interventions, as one of the most important elements in successfully mounting a war on fast-spreading infestations.

Benoit Dorais, the executive committee member responsible for housing, said that information was used to create a database that helps document where the problem is occurring and spreading.

The worst hit neighbourhoods last year were in the downtown and in the east end.

France Emond from the province's tenants' right association said that the city's current practice of documenting individual residences treated for bedbugs is only capturing part of the problem.

"The building needs to be all exterminated, not just one unit, because those little bed bugs, they don't have addresses, so you have to do the whole building," she said.

She said the city needs to take its efforts one step further and institute fines if landlords don't properly fumigate following a reported infiltration.