Bed bugs are small insects that feed on humans, mostly at night. Although they are a significant nuisance, they are
not known to spread any diseases. Infestations occur throughout the world and are increasing. The rising number is in part attributable to travelers carrying bugs from one location to another. The bugs are also becoming more resistant to pesticides.
The insect’s eggs are tiny, white and elongated, like a grain of rice but much smaller. Young bugs are light yellow-brown and about 1/16 inch (1-2mm) in size. Adults are rust-colored and about 1/4 inch (5-6mm) long. Their life span is six months to a year. Adult bugs can live for months without feeding.
Bed bugs can infest any home or business, no matter how clean or high quality it is. The bugs are often found in mattresses, luggage, clothing and cracks in furniture, walls and floors. They are easily transferred from one place to another in luggage and clothing.
Travelers should take precautions against being bitten, as well as measures to avoid carrying the bugs from one place to another.
Bed bugs bites are itchy and irritating. They can occur anywhere on the body, but are most common on exposed skin. They may remain unseen or cause an obvious rash. If left alone, bites usually heal within a few days with no treatment necessary. If someone scratches bites and breaks the skin, the wound can become infected. Skin infections sometimes require antibiotic treatment.
Prevention while traveling
- Inspect your hotel room for bed bugs. Examine the furniture, head board, bed sheets and mattress seams. Look for bed bugs, their eggs, dark spots from their feces, and small bloodstains from crushed bugs.
- If you detect bed bugs, notify the hotel management. Request a different room that is not adjacent to the infested room.
- Only unpack after ensuring the room is free of bed bugs. Avoid putting your luggage on the bed or floor. Use luggage racks instead.
- If you suspect bugs have gotten into your clothing or other items, place them in a sealed plastic bag until you can wash in hot water or dry clean.
When you return home, particularly if you suspect you have stayed in infested accommodation:
- Inspect your belongings for bed bugs.
- Unpack and vacuum suitcases before bringing them inside. Start by vacuuming the outside thoroughly.
- Next, open the suitcase and put all clothes into the washing machine immediately, leaving the bag outside. Wash all items in hot water, even if they have not been worn. Machine dry if possible. Items that cannot be washed should be dry cleaned.
- Vacuum the inside of the suitcase.
Luggage is now ready to be brought inside.
- New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, Bed Bug Fact Sheet http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/vector/vector-faq1.shtml
- US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Bed Bugs http://www.cdc.gov/nceh/ehs/Topics/bedbugs.htm
- US Environmental Protection Agency: Pesticides – Controlling Pests http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/bedbugs/
- National Pest Management Association – Bed Bugs – Unwanted
- Summer Vacation Souvenirs http://www.pestworld.org/press-releases/bed-bugs-unwanted- summer-vacation-souvenirs