Bed Bugs

With their recent resurgence in the United States, bed bugs have been making the news and have also been the subject of several phone calls to the Adair County Health Department.

Below are some frequently asked questions that have been received and some tips to help avoid providing the next meal of these bothersome pests.

What are bed bugs and what harm do they pose to humans?

Bed bugs are small insects that feed on the blood of humans and other animals. Adults are approximately 3/16 of an inch long with oval, reddish-flattened bodies. They do not fly but can move rapidly across surfaces. At this time, there are no known diseases transmitted by bed bugs. Their bites can cause large, itchy welts and swelling. These welts may appear within a day or might be delayed longer in some individuals. Others may have no reaction at all. A characteristic of bed bug bites is that they often appear in a line or cluster due to their feeding patterns.

How are bed bugs transferred to humans?

Bed bugs are generally transported into a residence or other facility by coming in on someone’s clothing, luggage, or furniture from an infested area. Although bed bugs do  not normally reside on humans, they will feed on them while they are asleep. This feeding does not usually awaken a sleeping person. For this reason, bed bugs typically reside in or around the bed or sleeping surface. Bed bugs tend to hide in the seams of the mattress or box spring and headboard, nightstand or any surfaces with cracks that provide hiding. Evidence of these hiding spots can be the bed bugs themselves or dark spotting or staining from their droppings.

What steps should be taken if you have bed bugs?

If you suspect you are the victim of bed bugs, the best solution is to contact a licensed pest control operator. Bed bugs can be very hard to control since they can hide in so many places. Since they are sensitive to heat, clothing, bedding, and other items that can be washed should be washed in hot water and dried on the hot cycle to kill the bugs. Items that cannot be washed can be placed in the freezer for several hours. Live bugs and eggs can also be vacuumed from the bed to provide, temporary relief but is not permanent and won’t eliminate those bugs and eggs hidden deeper within.

Are bed bugs reportable to the Health Department?

While it is not required to contact the Health Department if you have bed bugs, it is advisable to contact the local county or city jurisdiction if bed bugs are encountered in a lodging or other commercial building.

What are some tips dealing with used furniture/mattresses, etc?

Used furniture or beds should be thoroughly examined for signs of bed bugs before being brought into the home. It is also recommended to never bring in discarded or curbside items.