Saturday, November 9, 2013

When customers' delusions affect their pets

Long-time readers of this blog, or you who hear me talk at pest control conferences, know that I occasionally address the subject of delusions of parasitosis.  This is one of the trickier "pest" problems to solve, especially since there is no pest involved.  In my office I receive 2-3 suspected delusional samples per month, many as referrals from some of you.  The problem seems worse this year, as I have had many people convinced that they have intractable biting mite problems after reading misleading and harmful information online.

A recent article published in the Veterinary Information Network News Services addressed the issue of pet owners bringing their pets in for treatment of non-existent bugs. Apparently PMPs and vets both have to deal with this issue, and I found the article informative and helpful. One story, highlighted in the accompanying photo, had a happy ending when the client accepted psychiatric treatment. Sadly, it is very difficult to get most delusional clientele to pursue such therapy.

Some of these folks perceive normal grooming behavior of their pets as proof that the pet is infested and suffering. I guess the lesson here is that in cases where you cannot detect a valid pest, and the pest description doesn't match reality, take everything a customer claims with a grain of salt.  For more information on diagnosing mysterious bug bite cases see my factsheet.

1 comment:

Stinger said...

I have to agree, the biggest issue especially with bed bugs these days is that everyone thinks they have them. The creep factor plays a very important part in these cases. I have been to homes where the owner has 40 medicine vials full of bugs or so they think and after careful examination nothing but lint and skin flakes. It is vitally important to do a thorough inspection and verify the presence of bugs. Then the next part is to address the situation, whether real or imagined. That could be your biggest endeavor, talking with customers. Pest Control is more than just killing the bugs.