Two weeks ago, I mentioned the opportunity to learn about bed bugs at a local conference. On June 15, you have the opportunity to learn all you need to know about bedbugs, and more. The event is sponsored by the Community Action Agency of Somerville (CAAS) in collaboration with Cambridge Health Alliance.
Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for the National Pest Management Association writes today about how bed bugs get into a house. The NPMA, a non-profit organization with more than 7,000 members, was established in 1933 to support the pest management industry's commitment to the protection of public health, food and property. For more information about pests and prevention tips, please visit www.PestWorld.org.
Imagine coming back from your summer vacation, relaxed and recharged, but within days of your return you wake up with red bumps on your legs and arms. Maybe you even notice pepper-like flakes on your bed sheets and you quizzically wonder what could it be? Unfortunately, the answer may be bed bugs, the vacation souvenir no one wants to bring home.
So, what’s a vacationer to do? According to a 2011 National Pest Management Association and University of Kentucky survey 80 percent of pest professionals have treated bed bugs in hotels and motels. Although bed bugs are found in numerous places other than hotels, most travelers will stay in a hotel at one point or another during their vacation, putting themselves at risk of picking up these hitchhiking bugs.
Although bed bugs are not known to be vectors of disease, they can cause anxiety, sleeplessness, and emotional reactions in response to the knowledge that you’re sharing your bed with small bugs that suck your blood.
As with most pests, prevention is key. Here are several, easy but important tips, to keep in mind when traveling to ensure vacation memories, photos and actual souvenirs are the only things you bring back home:
• At hotels, pull back the sheets and inspect the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, for telltale stains or spots. If you see anything suspect, notify management and change rooms or establishments immediately.
• If you do need to change rooms, be sure that you do not move to a room adjacent and/or directly above/below the suspected infestation. Bed bugs can easily hitchhike via housekeeping carts, luggage and even through wall sockets. If an infestation is spreading, it typically does so in the rooms closest to the origin.
• Consider placing your suitcase in a plastic trash bag or protective cover during the
duration of your trip to ensure that bed bugs cannot take up residence there prior to departure.
• After traveling, inspect your suitcases before bringing them into the house. Vacuum your suitcase thoroughly before storing away. Consider using a garment hand steamer to steam your luggage, which will kill any bed bugs or eggs that may have hitched a ride home.
• Wash and dry all of your clothes - even those that have not been worn - in hot temperatures to ensure that any bed bugs that may have made it that far are not placed into your drawers/closet.
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