MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Thought to be eradicated since World War II, in recent years, bed bugs have been making a comeback throughout the United States. Beyond their annoying bites and welts, research indicates bed bugs can pose physical and psychological health concerns as well. Additionally, reports of bed bugs are increasing in some areas of the country not previously prone to outbreaks, indicating they are on the move.
Terminix released its list of cities experiencing the largest increases in bed bug activity, with Sacramento, Calif. taking the top spot with a 54% jump in bed bug customer calls compared to this same time last year.
The 2013 list of cities with the highest increases in bed bug infestations include:
|3||Las Vegas, Nev.||50%|
|6||Riverside-San Bernardino, Calif.||41%|
|7||St. Louis, Mo.||40%|
|11||Los Angeles, Calif.||27%|
|12||San Francisco, Calif.||26%|
|13||Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas||25%|
“Bed bugs continue to have a significant presence across the country, in cities large and small, and pose concern for public health,” said Stan Cope, PhD and entomologist with Terminix. “There is now evidence that suggests that severe bed bug infestations may be associated with anemia. Also, bed bug bites can result in secondary infections due to excessive scratching. Bed bug infestations are also known to have a psychological impact and can cause emotional stress and irritability, so if you think you have an issue with bed bugs you should immediately contact a professional to treat your home or business,” added Cope.
Terminix created the list by compiling and analyzing bed bug-specific call volume to its more than 300 branches throughout the country. The rankings represent cities with the biggest percentage gains in bed bug customer calls from Jan-May 2013 compared to the same time period in 2012. Eight of the cities – Columbus, Los Angeles, Dallas/Ft. Worth, Houston, Baltimore, Louisville, Cleveland and San Francisco – are also among the top 15 cities in total number of bed bug customer calls year-to-date for 2013. Once relegated to primarily major cities, bed bugs are good travelers and have been reported by nearly all of the Terminix branches throughout the country.
Bed bugs are usually transported from one location to another as people travel. They can travel in the seams of luggage, carry-on bags, folded clothing and furniture. Because bed bugs can go several months without a blood meal, it’s a good idea to thoroughly inspect luggage and mattresses when traveling. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and anticoagulant that prevents a person from feeling the bite. Because these bites generally occur while people are sleeping, they don’t realize they’ve been bitten until small marks appear which are generally slightly swollen, red and may itch.
Terminix offers the following tips to mitigate the risk of being bitten or transporting bed bugs:
• Check hotel headboards, mattresses and box springs for live bed bugs, their exoskeletons and/or dark blood spots.
• Hang all clothing. Leave nothing lying on the bed or furniture.
• Avoid storing clothing in a hotel’s furniture drawers.
• Store suitcases on a luggage rack as far away from the bed as possible.
• Vacuum suitcases when returning home, and immediately wash clothing in hot water.
• Between trips, store luggage in a sealed plastic bag in a garage or basement, away from bedrooms.
• If you suspect you have bed bugs, have your home inspected by a trained professional. Bed bugs cannot be controlled by over-the-counter treatments.