Bedbugs are obligate blood parasites that belong to the insect family Cimicidae. Cimex lectularius and Cimex hemipterus, the two bedbug species that feed primarily on humans, are oval, reddish-brown, flat, and wingless. Adults are typically 4 to 7 mm in length (Figure 1). Nymphs can be as small as 1 mm, and are translucent and lighter in color 5,7 (Figure 2). Adult females produce 200 to 500 eggs in a typical six- to 12-month life span.5,8 Bedbugs can withstand temperatures from 44.6°F to 113°F (7°C to 45°C).8
For those concerned about bedbug infestations in hotels, an important tip is that you can inspect any hotel room for the presence of the telltale signs of bedbugs. It is important to check the mattress and headboard, and luggage racks. In hotels, keeping your suitcase away from the bed and on a luggage rack can help prevent bedbugs from infesting your luggage. When you return home, inspect your luggage and put clothes immediately into the washer. While washing clothes in hot water does not kill bedbugs, drying clothes at a high temperature can eliminate them.
An OTC antiseptic medication can be used for skin irritation that may then develop into an infection. As a precaution, do not use creams on broken or infected skin. If you have already been scratching, do not use these products on any raw or weeping areas. If you see signs of a skin infection, such as redness, don't use these creams in that area, and call your doctor.
A number of other symptoms may occur from either the bite of the bed bugs or from their exposure. Anaphylaxis from the injection of serum and other nonspecific proteins has been rarely documented. Due to each bite taking a tiny amount of blood, chronic or severe infestation may lead to anemia. Bacterial skin infection may occur due to skin break down from scratching. Systemic poisoning may occur if the bites are numerous. Exposure to bed bugs may trigger an asthma attack via the effects of airborne allergens although evidence of this association is limited. There is no evidence that bed bugs transmit infectious diseases even though they appear physically capable of carrying pathogens and this possibility has been investigated. The bite itself may be painful thus resulting in poor sleep and worse work performance.
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.
2. Active Guard Liners: Active Guard Mattress Liners may be placed on beds and are effective as both preventative and active bed bug treatments. They kill bed bugs and dust mites within 72 hours and will prevent bed bugs from infesting mattresses. ActiveGuard Liners act like a fitted sheet; it comes in single, full, queen, and king sizes that fit up to 17" in depth.
Both of these types of Hemiptera are sensitive to extreme temperatures. It may be necessary to rid the infestation by exposing the area to extreme heat or cold; they are most comfortable in temperatures around eighty degrees Fahrenheit. Raising the temperature to ninety-seven to ninety-nine degrees may kill off a significant portion of the population.
Becoming a victim of a bed bug infestation is certainly devastating, but the public can rest easy knowing that these pests are not known to transmit any diseases. While it is true that some pathogens have been detected in and on bed bugs including hepatitis B, and exotic organisms such as Trypanosoma cruzi (cause of Chagas Disease, rarely found in the United States) or Wolbachia species, unlike mosquitoes and ticks, bed bugs have not been associated with disease transmission.
The size of bed bug bites varies with a number of different factors. Bed bugs inject an anti-coagulant along with their saliva when they pierce the skin to take a blood meal. This anti-coagulant is mostly responsible for how a person reacts to the bite and determines the size of the bug’s bite. Since people will have various sensitivities to the bed bug’s bite, the size of the bite will vary, as well. Another factor that influences the size of a bed bug reaction is the number of times a person is bitten. Bite reactions of people bitten many times are also variable, and their response may be either more or less intense as the number of bites increases.