Bed bugs are insects from the genus Cimex that feed on blood, usually at night. Their bites can result in a number of health impacts including skin rashes, psychological effects, and allergic symptoms. Bed bug bites may lead to skin changes ranging from small areas of redness to prominent blisters. Symptoms may take between minutes to days to appear and itchiness is generally present. Some individuals may feel tired or have a fever. Typically, uncovered areas of the body are affected. Their bites are not known to transmit any infectious disease. Complications may rarely include areas of dead skin or vasculitis.
Bed bug bites are caused primarily by two species of insects: Cimex lectularius (the common bed bug) and Cimex hemipterus, found primarily in the tropics. Their size ranges between 1 and 7 mm. They spread by crawling between nearby locations or by being carried within personal items. Infestation is rarely due to a lack of hygiene but is more common in high-density areas. Diagnosis involves both finding the bugs and the occurrence of compatible symptoms. Bed bugs spend much of their time in dark, hidden locations like mattress seams, or cracks in a wall.
- Protecting your home
- Protecting yourself at school or office
- Tips for travel
- Print an information card to carry with you
Get Rid of Bed Bugs
- Using integrated pest management
- Pesticides for bed bug control
- Steps for “do-it-yourself”
- Safety issues in controlling bed bugs
- Find help with bed bug problems
To prevent bringing home bed bugs, travelers are advised to take precautions after visiting an infested site: generally, these include checking shoes on leaving the site, changing clothes outside the house before entering, and putting the used clothes in a clothes dryer outside the house. When visiting a new lodging, it is advised to check the bed before taking suitcases into the sleeping area, and putting the suitcase on a raised stand to make bedbugs less likely to crawl in. An extreme measure would be putting the suitcase in the tub. Clothes should be hung up or left in the suitcase, and never left on the floor.
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Additional preventative measures include sealing cracks and crevices (which are often the sites of bed bug harborages), inspecting furniture, and for exposed travelers to decontaminate clothes and luggage upon returning home. The founder of a company dedicated to bedbug extermination said that 5% of hotel rooms he books into were infested. He advised people never to sit down on public transport; check office chairs, plane seats, and hotel mattresses; and monitor and vacuum home beds once a month. Close all wall openings or gaps, bed bugs tend to hide in dark places and cracked walls are a perfect spot for them to infest.