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A Pain in the Bug

The countdown begins, we are just a few short weeks away from the start of summer. What does this mean? Traveling and vacations. But, most of all it may mean spending time away from home in a hotel. While we have seen a rapid influx of bed bugs in recent years, nobody wants to bring these unwanted creepy crawlers home with them. With that said, it’s in your best interest to learn how not to.

A Bug By Any Other Name

It seems like all of a sudden we hear mounting news about the growing number of bed bug cases. What are bed bugs? According to CDC, bed bugs are small, flat, parasitic insects that solely feed on the blood of humans and animals as they sleep. They also can live several months without a blood meal. Bed bugs have the propensity to travel more than 100 feet in a night, but tend to live within eight feet of where people sleep. What else? Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless and range from 1mm to 7mm in length. They also usually are transported from location to location, as people travel.

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Bed bugs have the propensity to travel more than 100 feet in a night.

Be very leery of where you call your home away from home, because bed bugs do not discriminate. They have been found in the swankiest five-star resorts and hotels. That’s right, even the most palatial suites may be infested with bed bugs and you may not even know it.

Furthermore, their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions in which they are found. They hide during the daytime in places such as box springs, seams of mattresses, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices. Other highly favored spots of bed bugs is behind wallpaper or any clutter, debris or objects around a bed.

The Party Crashers

Just as with many instances in life, a bed bug bite can affect each person differently. Bite responses differ, in that they can range from a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction.

Your mind may be somewhat at ease to know that bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous or a medical or public health hazard. Nonetheless, one who experiences an allergic reaction to several bites may require medical attention.

More of an annoyance than anything else, bed bugs, also are not known to spread disease in any form. What they are known to do is cause excessive itching and sleep loss. And, in certain instances, the itching can lead to repeated scratching. What’s the problem? This may increase the chance of one developing a secondary skin infection. Some even may be allergic to bed bugs; those who are allergic will see enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

Still with me? Since the answer is yes, we can now delve into who is at risk of developing bed bug bites and transporting them. In short, everyone is at risk, when visiting an infected area. This can mean that anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where others have previously slept, has a greater risk of being bitten and or spreading bed bugs.

No Limitations, Just Infestations

It’s a big planet in which we live, therefore, bed bugs are found all across the globe. But, there are ways to distinguish if you are or have been in the presence of bed bugs; they leave some very distinct marks. One of the simplest and easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by bite marks on the face, hands, neck, arms or other body parts while resting.

Note that, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people. Why? As bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents one from realizing they are being bitten. What’s more, bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or flea; a slightly swollen and red area that can be both irritated and itchy.

However, you can do your part and look for other clues, when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These tell-tale signs include:

  • a sweet musty odor;
  • the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting;
  • rusty-colored blood spots (because of blood-filled fecal matter they excrete on the mattress or on furniture);
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets.
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Bed bugs tend to live within eight feet of where people sleep.

Combating the Problem

As previously stated, bed bug bites do not pose a serious medical threat, under normal circumstances. How do I treat a bed bug bite?

The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the infected area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions. Though nothing substitutes the proper diagnosis of a health care professional such as a doctor, taking an antihistamine has been proven useful.

If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact the hotel in which you may be staying, immediately. They more than likely will enlist the help of a professional pest control company, that is well-versed in treating bed bugs. This procedure fairly is simple and requires that bed bugs be sprayed with insecticide.

Peeling Back the Layers and Covers

We travel and vacation to take a break from the norm. Our experience, therefore, should be a fun-filled one, not spent worrying about extra elements that may or may not be brought home; however, this is not the reality of the matter. Being aware that bed bugs can exist in any setting, is probably one of the best pieces of information that you can arm yourself with as you rest your head. It’s that simple!

Web Links:

http://www.cdc.gov/parasites/bedbugs/faqs.html;

http://answers.webmd.com/answers/1193564/where-do-bed-bugs-come-from;

http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000844.htm

-Kimberly Williams

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