Prior to the mid-20th century, bed bugs were very common. According to a report by the UK Ministry of Health, in 1933, all the houses in many areas had some degree of bed bug infestation. The increase in bed bug populations in the early 20th century has been attributed to the advent of electric heating, which allowed bed bugs to thrive year-round instead of only in warm weather.
Many chemical pesticides are available, with more than 300 registered by the EPA. Pesticides should be applied to walls, floors, cracks in furniture, and seams and buttons of mattresses.21 The EPA’s Bed Bug Products search tool (Web site: http://cfpub.epa.gov/oppref/bedbug/) allows users to search by product name, company, EPA registration number, location of intended use, and pesticide type. The National Pesticide Information Center (Web site: http://npic.orst.edu/; telephone: 800-858-7378) is another useful resource. Silica gel dusts are a safer alternative to traditional pesticides, because they are less concentrated and less toxic.21 Plastic mattress and pillow encasements can help trap bedbugs and restrict spread.42 Regardless of the integrated pest management strategy used, a follow-up inspection 10 to 21 days after extermination is advised to detect and manage a persistent infestation.42
In the lab we handle all the bed bugs in a specific room that we steam clean once a week, and we have double-stick tape barriers that they can't walk through (as long as the adhesive remains dust-free). And the bed bugs themselves are enclosed in containers that they can't get out of. We actually feed them inside those containers—we lay a blood reservoir against the cloth "lid" and the bed bugs have to push their mouthparts through the cloth into the reservoir to eat.
Run hot water as hot as you can take it. When its hot enough for you, run the hot water over your bites. Yes it does burn a little, but you’ll feel relief from the hot water drawing the “itch” out. Do this for about 10-15 seconds and then immediately switch to very cold water and run that over it. The shock to your skin from going from hot to cold immediately relieves the itch and it lasts for hours. I can take it pretty hot, so I almost give myself burns, but its worth it.
To treat an allergic reaction, the doctor may prescribe an antihistamine, corticosteroid, or epinephrine injection. If the area is infected, he or she might prescribe an antibiotic or recommend an over-the-counter antiseptic. Finally, if it’s severe itchiness that you’re dealing with, applying corticosteroid or taking an antihistamine in pill or liquid form may be able to help.
Reports of bedbugs can be found in the popular press and on hotel and travel review sites, and they appear to be making a comeback. The good news is that they typically do not pose serious health risks, even though their bites may be uncomfortable. These slides show you how to recognize bedbugs, know where they're hiding, and learn what to do to prevent getting bitten.
Bed bugs do not transmit MRSA. Although there have been reports of persons developing methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections, such as boils or abscesses associated with bed bug bites, it turns out the bed bugs really weren't directly at fault. Rather, the cases of MRSA infections associated with bed bug bites are actually an example of scratching leading to minor skin trauma and subsequent secondary bacterial infections. In these cases, people who are carriers of MRSA scratch at the itchy bite sites and provide a port of entry for the MRSA (which was already present on their skin) to get in and under the skin and cause the secondary infection. While it can be blamed for some other bed bug symptoms like itching and red welts, the bed bug cannot be blamed for the infection.
Bedbugs do, however, have a unique bite pattern. Although some bites may appear alone, most bites occur in a row of three to five bites (termed "breakfast, lunch, and dinner") or in a cluster of red bumps (a rash called bedbug dermatitis). The bites often appear in a zig-zag formation, but may appear in a straight line if the bugs bite you in the morning.
Most people will find bed bug bites to be small and very itchy. These bites are often mistaken for something else such as eczema. It can be hard to diagnose bed bug bites due to this, especially if someone inflames their skin further by scratching the area. There are some signs that point more strongly to bed bugs over other types of bugs. The number one thing to look out for is a line of bites going straight up your body: bed bugs commonly bite in this pattern as they bite you at the crease where your body meets the bed sheets. It’s very rare to find a single bite like you would with spiders or mosquitoes, and much more common to find clusters and lines. It’s also rare for bugs to bite your face. They most frequently bite your lower body, but anywhere can be bitten.
The significant resurgence of bedbugs in the past decade has been attributed to pesticide resistance, more frequent travel, lack of public awareness, and inadequate pest control programs. Bedbugs are obligate blood parasites (insect family Cimicidae). They can withstand a large range of temperatures but are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide. They typically feed just before dawn. Cutaneous reactions to bedbug bites can include macules, papules, wheals, vesicles, bullae, and nodules. Bites may be confused with other skin conditions. Bedbug bite reactions are typically self-limited and resolve within one to two weeks without treatment. Bedbug infestation may cause significant psychological distress. The diagnosis of a bedbug infestation is based on history, appearance of bites, and inspection of sleeping quarters. Although there is no evidence that bedbugs transmit disease, systemic reactions may include asthma, angioedema, generalized urticaria, iron deficiency anemia, and, rarely, anaphylaxis. An integrated pest management strategy should be employed to eliminate infestation. Tactics include vacuuming, heat or cold treatment, trapping devices, and pesticides.
When staying in a hotel, I check the bed before I bring the suitcase into the sleeping part of the room so that if I have to ask the manager for another room, then I haven't exposed my suitcase to the bugs. When settling in, I put my suitcase up on the suitcase stand or the desktop so that any bugs are less likely to crawl into it. An extreme measure would be putting the suitcase in the tub. If it's a porcelain tub, bed bugs would have a hard time crawling up it. It's also unlikely that they would randomly crawl up a tub, because it's not near the bed. But if I don't see bed bugs in the room when I inspect it, I just put my suitcase on the stand because I know the probability is really low that a bug is going to crawl up the stand and into my suitcase. I keep my clothes in the suitcase or hang them in the closet—I don't leave them on the floor because wandering bed bugs might crawl into them.
Nightstands and dressers may need to be emptied and examined inside and out, and tipped over to inspect the woodwork underneath. Oftentimes the bugs will be hiding in cracks, corners, and recesses. Other common bed bug hiding places include: along and under the edge of wall-to-wall carpeting, especially behind beds and sofas; cracks in wood molding; ceiling-wall junctures; behind wall-mounted pictures, mirrors, outlets and switch plates; under loose wallpaper; clothing and clutter within closets; and inside clocks, phones, televisions and smoke detectors.
Turns out, C. lectularius is also forming a resistance to other insecticides, according to a study published online April 10, 2017, in the Journal of Economic Entomology. The researchers, from Purdue University, found that three out of 10 bedbug populations collected in the field showed much less susceptibility to chlorfenapyr, and five of the 10 populations showed reduced susceptibility to bifenthrin, according to a post on Entomology Today. The scientists defined "reduced susceptibility" as a population in which more than 25 percent of the begbugs survived after seven days of exposure to the particular insecticide.
Bedbugs are most often found in hotels, hostels, shelters, and apartment complexes where lots of people come and go. Because bedbugs hide in small crevices, they can hitch a ride into your home on luggage, pets, furniture, clothing, boxes, and other objects. Bedbugs are found worldwide, but are most common in developing countries. Once rare in North America, they may be on the rise due, in part, to increases in international travel.