Don't let the bed bugs bite; Public health professionals give tips to prevent bed bug infestation
By Ms. Chanel WeaverJuly 11, 2019
Aberdeen, Maryland-- Now that the summer travel season is in full swing, Army public health professionals are warning travelers to be vigilant about preventing bed bug infestation."Nearly one in five people have experienced a personal bed bug infestation, or know of someone who has encountered bed bugs," said Thomas Burroughs, chief of the Entomological Sciences Division at the U.S. Army Public Health Center.One reason that bed bug infestations are on the rise is due to frequent travel."They are great hitch-hikers," said Kevin Harkins, an entomologist at APHC.They are often found in well-trafficked areas including hotels, offices and daycare centers.
Although bed bugs are considered a public health pest, unlike most pests, bed bugs are not known to transmit or spread disease."A bite from them can cause allergic reactions in some people," said Burroughs.Army entomologists say recognizing bed bugs is an important part of preventing infestations."Bed bugs also leave small red, brown or black spots on mattresses, sheets and furniture after they feed."Harkins said that not bringing bed bugs home is essential. Here are some good ways to not introduce bed bugs into your home:1) When you travel, don't unpack until you have conducted a thorough room inspection. Bed bugs are nocturnal and hide during the day, so they may be hard to spot. Instead, look for signs of infestation such as dark spots on sheets, pillow cases and along mattress seams. Bed bugs may also leave old shed skins and lay eggs behind the headboard, and in the seams of chairs and sofas. If you find any evidence of bed bugs, notify the management and request a different room.2) Store your luggage on the rack inside of the hotel room instead of on the floor. You may also consider placing your luggage inside a plastic trash bag and tying the bag to prevent bed bugs from entering and possibly hitching a ride to your home.3) After the trip, inspect and vacuum your luggage. Always wash clothing immediately after returning from a trip. Even drying clothing on low heat for half an hour will kill bed bugs until clothing can be properly washed the following day.
4) Thoroughly inspect used furniture prior to purchasing to prevent unwanted visitors from going with you.If you do accidentally bring bed bugs home, Harkins recommends consulting a pest control professional.For more information on preventing bed bugs, visit the Army Public Health Center website:
https://phc.amedd.army.mil-End-The Army Public Health Center enhances Army readiness by identifying and assessing current and emerging health threats, developing and communicating public health solutions, and assuring the quality and effectiveness of the Army's Public Health Enterprise.