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Bed Bugs

What is a bed bug?

Bed bugs are reddish brown, oval and flat household pests that sneak into human living spaces. Bed bugs are about the size of an apple seed. They are parasites that live in nests of their hosts. The problem is that those nests are often beds and the hosts are people. This is why they are called bed bugs. Although these critters are a nuisance and are unpleasant, they do not pose any known health risk.

What are the health problems from bed bug bites?

Bed bugs bite. This is how they get their food. If you get bitten by bed bugs, it may be bothersome and annoying. Do not panic. Although nobody wants to be bitten by these critters, there is no known spread of disease from getting bitten or no known illness. Typical topical ointments and creams can alleviate the bothersome itch and swelling.

How can the health department help me?

As a public service, with this website we provide general information on bed bugs and suggestions for ways to deal with bed bug infestations.

We don't have jurisdiction to enforce abatement, conduct bed bug testing, conduct home or health facility inspections, track complaints or provide resolution for disputes between landlords and tenants, or provide resolution for disputes between consumers and businesses (including hotels and housing facilities).

However, we provide tips on how to protect your home, car, and your belongings from becoming a nest for bed bugs and tips for alleviating a bothersome bed bug battle and links to organizations that can provide assistance. We do not endorse specific products or companies but may highlight resources for bed bug control.

How and why are bed bugs spreading?

They basically hitchhike on fabrics from place to place creating colonies in beds and couches. Bed bugs have recently resurged in the United Sates and have been found in every state. These parasites have no borders or boundaries.

The recent spike in bed bugs infestation may be due to an increase in human travel and/or lack of behavior to avoid spreading these bugs.

These tiny bugs have crawled their way into homes and establishments of all kinds including houses, apartments, dorms, motels, hotels, and just about any type of group housing and found their way into lobbies, businesses, and cars.

Bed bugs don’t discriminate — everyone is fair game!

What are simple things I can do everyday to avoid getting bed bugs?

You can avoid picking up bed bugs everyday while at work or school:

  • Avoid setting your purses, bags, and backpacks on the floor, on carpet and upholstered furniture.
  • Use hooks to hang your items or set your items on non-upholstered surfaces.
  • After work or school, remove your shoes when entering your home.

You can help control bed bugs in your home:

  • Seal all cracks and crevices in your walls. This includes spaces around cords and outlets and around plumbing and wiring.
  • Use mattress covers (look for ones that specifically offer a barrier to bed bugs).
  • Do not place backpacks, purses or bags on beds, couches, or other upholstered areas.
  • Install hooks to hang your belongings or install non-upholstered shelving to store your items.
  • Do not bring furniture, mattresses, box springs, or bed frames or couches found on the street into your home.
  • Wash your bedding often (sheets, comforters, bed spreads, duvets, pillow cases).
  • Always remove your shoes when entering your home.
  • Clear any clutter in your bedrooms.Clutter gives bed bugs a place to hide.
  • Do not use insect repellant before you go to bed. This does not prevent bed bugs from pestering. Use a mattress cover.
  • Never spray pesticides on your body. This will cause more harm to your body than will the bed bug bite. Use a mattress cover.

What are simple things I can do to avoid getting the bed bugs blues?

Bed bugs live off of blood, mostly human, but sometimes animal. They can go months without a meal, which is one of the reasons it’s hard to get rid of these parasites.

Bed bugs thrive in dark cozy environments such as the crevices of your bed mattress and the seams of your couch making them hard to spot. They mostly come out at night, typically travel about 8 feet (the length of your bed or couch), and lay eggs in seams of fabrics and upholstered furniture. These are the other reasons why it’s difficult to get rid of these unwelcomed houseguests.

When you are on the road away from your home you are at an increased risk of coming into contact with bed bugs and possibly bringing them back in to your home. Here are tips to avoid spreading hitchhiking bugs across your home:

  • Keep your luggage and personal effects off the floor by using the luggage rack and hanging them up when you stay in lodging away from your home such as motels and hotels.
  • Check the luggage cart for bed bugs before putting your bags on it.
  • Do not rest your belongings (make-up bags, purses) on the beds, couches, or other cloth or fabric in the motel room.
  • Use the luggage rack in the motel room and hang any of your other items.

When you get home:

  • Take your travel bags and belongings into a garage or directly to the washroom/laundry room, in a non-carpeted area. Do not take your items to your bedroom until everything has been cleaned and washed.
  • Wash everything. Everything? Yes everything you took with you and brought back. Wash all your clothes, even what you did not wear, on the hottest temperature recommended for the fabric, and dry it on the hottest temperature recommended for that fabric.
  • Wipe your suitcase and check the crevices and seams for bugs and eggs. The same goes for backpacks, tote bags, purses, brief cases, and cosmetic bags.
  • Remove and wipe your shoes before entering your home.

Health Tips

Did you know that bed bugs often spread by hitchhiking on luggage?

Check your luggage for bed bugs before bringing the luggage into your home.

Did you know that bed bugs often spread by hitchhiking on shoes?

Removing your shoes when you enter your house can help prevent the spread of bed bugs and their eggs into your home and also reduces household dust.

Install shoe racks near your entrance and always use dust mats (welcome mats) at the doorway to make it easier for you and your family to get into the habit of removing your shoes.

Did you know that mattress covers can help you avoid bed bug bites?

Use mattress covers that provide a barrier to bed bugs. Wash all your bedding such as sheets, comforters, and blankets often in hot water to help reduce bed bugs in your home.

Do not place your luggage, purses, or backpacks on your bed to avoid spreading bed bugs onto your bedding.

Did you know that spraying pesticides on your body can harm your health?

Take the basic steps highlighted above to help reduce bed bugs in your house. Pesticides should only be applied by professionals. Never spray these harmful chemicals on your body, bedding or clothes.

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