How did I get bed bugs?
Bed bugs can be introduced to any indoor environment through infested furniture, bedding, clothes, books and luggage. They can be “picked up” in homes, hotels, libraries, movie theaters, transportation, anywhere really. They can also travel through walls from apartment to apartment. This is most common in high level infestations or when chemicals have not been properly applied. Common places for bed bug infestations include:
- Apartment buildings and condominiums
- Hotels, motels
- Cruise ships
- Nursing homes
- College dorms
Bringing home just a couple bedbugs can quickly turn into an infestation since a female bedbug lays as many as 500 eggs during its lifetime and can survive 12 months or longer without feeding. Click on images to enlarge.
What are their effects?
Reactions to bed bug bites range from no reaction at all to extreme blisters, welts and swelling. When skin reactions occur they are generally accompanied by severe itching that can last for weeks or even months. Infestations can cause discomfort, embarrassment, anxiety, insomnia and they have even been linked to asthma attacks. There is also the risk of bacterial skin infections due to excessive scratching; systemic poisoning and anemia have occurred in chronic or extreme infestations. While bed bugs are capable of carrying infectious diseases (like MRSA and Hepatitis) there are no proven cases of transmitting them to other humans.
How can I prevent them?
Education and awareness are the most important aspects of prevention. Below is a list of some of the key do’s and don’ts that will help you stay bed-bug-free:
- Inspect all furniture and mail order items before they enter your home, avoid used furniture especially if found on curb
- Dry on high heat any used clothing you bring home
- Avoid going in homes or areas you suspect may be infested
- Avoid having people over who are dealing with a bed bug problem
- Inspect your hotel room when traveling
- Do not unpack your bags, place them on hard surface such as the bathroom counter or table
- Inform the front desk you will be inspecting the room, this will decrease the odds they will assign a room with a “history”
- Upon your return from a trip immediately dry all clothing on high heat or use a portable suitcase heating device (available in stores and online).
- If you do not own one of these devices:
- Consider traveling with soft bag so this to can be treated in drier
- Place empty suitcase in large, black contractor bag, seal and let “bake” in sun or in back seat of car