What's the Problem?
After 50 years of near elimination in the US, bed bugs are back, nationwide. "Bed Bug Prevention Methods" from Virginia Tech points out that people used to know how to avoid them. But, we've forgotten. They are spreading quickly across the country and, according to a CDC study, across the Western Hemisphere and Europe. The US CDC and EPA have issued a joint statement that concludes "the public [and] local health agencies must be involved in the control and management of bed bug populations and must be provided with the knowledge of best practices to prevent and control bed bug infestations. . . . A coordinated community control program may be necessary."
Avoiding Bed Bugs
Virginia Tech offers three action plans:
Learn "Where do Bed Bugs Hide?"
WebMD offers images of bedbugs and tips for avoiding them when at home or traveling. The joint CDC EPA statement above suggests Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as an effective and environmentally sensitive approach to avoiding and getting rid of bed bugs. IPM combines common-sense practices:
- Check for bedbugs: When you know what to look for, they are easy to identify
- use monitoring devices
- remove clutter where bed bugs can hide
- apply heat treatment
- vacuum floors and carpets frequently
- seal cracks and crevices to remove hiding places
- use non-chemical pesticides (such as diatomaceous earth) and
- carefully use effective chemical pesticides
- Action plan for hotels
- Action plan for apartments
Like to travel? So do bed bugs. They are easily picked up in hotels and even get transported on planes, trains and cars. You can bring them home in your bags or on your body. If you stay in hotel rooms, check for bed bugs as soon as you go in. Carry a small flashlight and check the bedding and mattress, and the legs and frame of the bed. Check before you take your bags into the room. Follow these travel tips for looking for bed bugs in hotels. If you see any evidence of bed bugs, ask immediately for another room (and check it too!).
The University of Minnesota has a questions and answers page to help travelers avoid bed bugs, and avoid bringing them home.
If you have young people heading to or staying in college dorms, be sure to tell them to check for bed bugs too. And check their stuff if they come back home to visit.
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