Don’t Let the Bed Bugs Bite
We know it’s not fun to contemplate the possibility that tiny, blood-sucking creatures are living in your child’s bed (let alone yours), but recent infestations in urban areas have entomologists and public-health officials scrambling to educate the mattress-using population about the signs and symptoms of bedbug infestation. Once considered a pest of the past, bedbugs are “experiencing a resurgence in Western countries, primarily due to an increase in foreign travel and changing pest-control practices,” according to MayoClinic.com.
The small reddish-brown bugs commonly hide in mattress and furniture seams, loose-weave bed linens and cracks in walls. Look for dark, thread-like collections of insects and their waste in the nooks and crannies of your family’s living and sleeping areas. The bugs are most active and easiest to spot at night.
Although bedbugs don’t carry or spread diseases, their bites can cause allergic reactions and uncomfortable skin irritations similar to those found in flea, lice and scabies infestations. Your physician will need to rule out other culprits during diagnosis. He or she will also recommend topical medications and, possibly, antihistamines to treat allergic reactions.
To prevent infestations, MaoClinic.com recommends the following steps:
Carefully inspect antiques and secondhand furniture before bringing them into your home.
Hire a professional exterminator to perform routine inspections and take preventative measures against bedbugs and other insects.
Inspect hotel and motel rooms when traveling.
Change and wash bed linens at least once a week; always wash linens in water that is 115 degrees Fahrenheit or hotter.
Vacuum weekly in living areas and bedrooms.
For additional preventative measures and advice about how to eradicate an existing infestation, visit the website of the Harvard School of Public Health: “http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/bedbugs/”