Don’t let the Bed Bugs Bite…remember that funny childhood comment as you went off to bed?  It has a whole different meaning now!  And why are we writing about bed bugs in this blog?  Simply put, they’re everywhere, they’re everywhere! We recently had a client who had a bed bug infection in a high rise office building when a staff person brought in a rug for his office that was infested with bed bugs…yuk!

Bed Bugs
So what are they? Bedbugs are wingless, blood-sucking insects. They are flat, oval, reddish brown, about 5-7 mm in length, and turn purplish after feeding.

Bedbug infestations are common worldwide, including North America and Europe, and seem to be increasing around the world at an alarming rate.  The reasons for this resurgence are unknown, but are thought to be due to increasing world travel, reluctance to use some insecticides because of concerns regarding toxicity, and resistance to other insecticides, such as pyrethroids.

Although bedbug infestation is thought to be a problem of poverty, unsanitary living conditions, and overcrowding, they are documented bedbug infestations in single-family dwellings as well as in homeless shelters and other communal living settings

Bed Bug Mattress
Bedbugs are transported from infested to non-infested areas on clothing, luggage, furniture, or bedding. Bedbugs possess stink glands and emit an odor. Homes heavily infested with the bugs have a distinct odor that dogs can be trained to detect.

The bedbug’s name comes from its preferred habitat that includes mattresses, sofas, and other furniture. Bedbugs hide in the seams and folds of upholstery and cracks and crevices in beds, wooden furniture, floorboards, and walls during the daytime and emerge at night to feed on humans, attracted to body heat, carbon dioxide, vibration, sweat, and odor. In some persons the bite is nearly undetectable. However, repeated bites may sensitize individuals to bedbug antigens, leading to more pronounced cutaneous manifestations, usually small clusters of extremely itchy, red and inflamed papules (skin bumps), or systemic hypersensitivity reactions. Scratching of the bite can lead to secondary bacterial infection. Most bedbug bite reactions are self-limited and require little specific treatment other than corticosteroid creams and oral antihistamines for local allergic reactions and antiseptic or antibiotic creams for secondary infections.

The life span of a bedbug is about 10 months, during which they may bite more than one individual and could possibly serve as a vector for transmission of a blood borne pathogen from one individual to another. Nevertheless, bedbugs have never been shown to transmit diseases. Hepatitis C virus RNA has not been detected in bedbugs at any time after feeding. Although hepatitis B virus DNA has been detected in bedbugs and excrement up to 6 wk after feeding on an infectious meal. Similarly, HIV could be detected in bedbugs up to 8 days after exposure to highly concentrated virus in blood meals, but no viral replication was observed, nor was any virus detected in bedbug feces

This is a map of the United States current bed bug infestations as reported by the The Bed Bug Registry (almost sounds like a bridal registry!).

Itching yet?  Wanna know where they are?  Well of course a good entrepreneur has created, The Bed Bug Registry!  This is a free, public database of user-submitted bed bug reports from across the United States and Canada. Founded in 2006, the site has collected about 20,000 reports covering 12,000 locations.