Bed Bugs: Closer Than You Think?

A clean hotel room bedAre bed bug infestations getting better or worse?

A new report conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky has found that bed bug infestations in the United States are continuing at high rates.

The report also stated that a third of pest-management companies treated bedbug infestations in hospitals in 2012, 6% more than the year before and more than twice as many as in 2010. The percentage of exterminators dealing with bed bugs in nursing homes has also almost doubled since 2010, to 46%. Bed bug experts also reported seeing them in ambulances, and 99.6 percent of study respondents claimed to have encountered bed bug infestations in the past year.

The top identified bed bug infestation locations were:

  • Hotels/motels – 75 percent (80 percent in 2011)
  • College dorms – 47 percent (54 percent in 2011)
  • Nursing homes – 46 percent (46 percent in 2011)
  • Office buildings – 36 percent (38 percent in 2011)
  • Schools and day care centers – 41 percent (36 percent in 2011)
  • Hospitals – 33 percent (31 percent in 2011)
  • Transportation (train/bus/taxi) – 21 percent (18 percent in 2011)
  • Movie theaters – 10 percent (17 percent in 2011)
  • Retail stores – 15 percent (21 percent in 2011)
  • Libraries – 12 percent (8 percent in 2011)

How Dangerous Is The Situation?

While bed bugs have not been found to transmit infections to humans, they leave itchy bites after feeding on people’s blood, which can lead to secondary infections when victims scratch, opening themselves up to bacteria. This is especially problematic in hospitals, where there is a greater likelihood of catching the highly potent and contagious staph infection known as MRSA, says Dr. Jorge Parada, medical director of the infection prevention and control program of Loyola University Health System in Chicago.

“You don’t need one more ingredient to increase your risk of infections in the hospital,” he says.


What To Do?

Make sure you really have bed bugs, not fleas, ticks or other insects
Don’t panic. You can compare your insect to the pictures on our Identifying bed bugs Web page or show it to your local extension agent. (Extension agents are trained in pest control issues and know your local area.)

Don’’t immediately reach for the spray can.

Be comprehensive in your approach. Try other things first. If pesticides are needed, always follow label directions or…