August 12, 2009
The common bed bug is found everywhere in the world. Bed bugs are small, tan or dark brown, wingless insects. Beside being tiny, they are also flat allowing them to easily hide in cracks and crevices, particularly those found in mattresses and bed frames - hence the name bed bug. They can survive for long periods of time between feedings, and like to stowaway on furniture, luggage, clothing, and bedding.
Prevention: These tips can help prevent an infestation of bed bugs in your home or apartment:
Carefully inspect antique, or secondhand, furniture and clothing before you bring it home.
When returning from a trip, inspect luggage for any insects that may have hitched a ride
Vacuum your home regularly, especially the areas around your bed and other furniture
Wash sheets and other bedding weekly in hot (at least 97 degree) water
Chalk any holes in walls or floors
Health Risks: Bed bugs have not been shown to transmit disease. But they do bite, and some people have a mild to severe allergic reaction to the bite, while some people have no reaction at all. If you are bitten by bed bugs, over the counter corticosteroids and antihistamines are usually all you need. But if the redness and itching persists, you should call your health care provider.
Management and Control: Controlling bed bugs once a dwelling has been infested can be difficult. Chalking or otherwise fixing obvious cracks and crevices in walls and floors can help, including sealing up gaps in wallpaper. Thoroughly cleaning or replacing bedding and furniture is also a good first step. Pesticides can help, but always follow the directions on the can. In many cases, a professional exterminator is the best way to eliminate the pests.
For more information on bed bugs, visit the Department of Health website www.healthvermont.gov.
This information was provided by Northeastern Vermont Regional Hospital.