Are Bed Bugs Hitching a Ride in Your Luggage?3 min read
In the U.S. and around the world, a silent health issue is emerging in an overwhelming fashion as an old threat resurfaces in beds across the globe: bed bugs. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a joint statement addressing the public health issues associated with bed bugs. And The U.S. National Pest Management Association has voiced concerns that the world may be headed towards a bed bug pandemic.
Bed bugs have been relatively under control since the 1950s, which raises the question, “Why are they such a problem now?” According to Wikipedia, the resurgence could be supported by “greater foreign travel, more frequent exchange of second-hand furnishings among homes, a greater focus on control of other pests resulting in neglect of bed bug countermeasures, and increasing resistance to pesticides.”
As described in the CDC and EPS’s joint statement on Bed Bug Control in the U.S. “Bed bugs are small, flat insects that feed on the blood of sleeping people and animals. They are reddish-brown in color, wingless, and range from 1 to 7 millimeters in length. Infestations of these insects usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep or spend a significant period of time. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, nursing homes, hospitals, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms.”
Reports of bed bug problems are coming from Asia, Eastern Europe, South Africa, the U.S. and Canada. According to Insight Pharmaceuticals, Columbus, Ohio, New York City and Toronto are the three worst-afflicted cities in North America.
If you are worried about bed bugs hitching a free ride back to your home, here are some things you should keep in mind when you are traveling:
- When you check in to your room, look for signs of bedbugs in the form of little blood smears on the sheets or bedding. If you see anything that raises suspicion, asked to be moved to another room or hotel.
- Don’t put your luggage on the floor, bed, chair or other furniture in your hotel room, instead use a luggage rack (keep the rack away from walls and furniture)
- Upon your arrival home, run all the items from your suitcase through the dryer at high heat; this should help kill any bugs or eggs that survived the trip.
- There are websites that provide travelers with products that protect against and prevent encounters with bed bugs; one example is USBedBugs.com.
For those traveling in the U.S. who want to research their hotels before they travel, visit the bed bug registry which allows you to search bed bug reports for hotels in the U.S. and parts of Canada. You can also set up alerts to get an email whenever someone within a mile of you reports bed bugs. There are also interactive maps you can view to see bedbug reports for major cities.
Have you encountered bed bugs on your travels? How did you handle it?
Photo by louento.pix.