A Saint John family of five is living in a tent on their front lawn after an apparent outbreak of bedbugs in their public housing townhouse.

Lisa Hamilton says bedbugs have forced her family into a tent

Lisa Hamilton says bedbugs have forced her family into a tent on their front lawn. (CBC)

Lisa Hamilton contends the Department of Social Development, which subsidizes the home, needs to provide more help to get rid of the pests, prevent them from spreading to other homes in the Crescent Valley neighbourhood, and from coming back.

She says the situation is taking its toll.

"The other day I was crying over the phone to my husband, letting him know that I can't keep up with this," said Hamilton, referring to the constant washing of bedding and clothing during the past month.

"I can't. I just want it to go and it's not going away because I think it's all the way through the house now," she said.

"We've been using bacterial … stuff to keep up with our floors. It's pretty much right through the walls and it's grossing me out."

Hamilton says she is unwilling to allow her three children to move back inside the home until it has been fumigated.

Education key

li-bedbugs-620

Lisa Hamilton wants an exterminator to deal with the bedbugs before she allows her three children back inside. (Radio-Canada)

The Department of Social Development says it can't comment on a specific case. But when there is an incident of bedbugs, the department acts right away, a spokesperson said.

Saint John-Portland MLA Trevor Holder says the department has responded quickly to previous complaints from constituents.

Some residents who spoke to CBC News on Thursday said bedbugs have been a recurring problem in the north end neighbourhood.

"This is an issue that's happening throughout North America," said Holder. "We have to be diligent. We have to make sure that we respond when people have a problem."

Holder believes education is the key.

"I think we need to make people understand how bedbugs come into a building and make sure that we take precautions," he said.

"Both the department needs to do that and the residents need to do that. And we all need to work together. This isn't an easy issue to deal with, but we can deal with it over time."

Shane Cudmore, of Braemar Pest Control Services, says bedbugs can affect anyone. He says people should not be afraid or embarrassed to seek help.

"So if they could please just tell somebody, or even call a pest control company to get some questions answered prior to any self-help or home-remedy process."