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Monday, October 31, 2011

A bedbug's life

Written by Lenita Powers

The lifespan of a bedbug is from 10 to 20 months.
Within a six-month period, a female bedbug can produce about 31,700 offspring. » They feed at night, typically one to two hours before sunrise.

There are things that go bite in the night and they could be living in a mattress near you.
Bedbugs are a widespread problem in Washoe County and across the nation and world, said Jeff Jeppson, a specialist in vector-borne disease with the Washoe County Health District.
Jeppson said there has been a resurgence in the last decade in the number of bedbugs across the country.
Speculation about the reason for the increase ranges from a switch in treatment from spraying hotel and motel bedrooms to the safer-for-humans use of bait traps in the 1990s to the surge in international travel that allowed the insects to hitch rides around the world.
"They're popping up all over the place," Jeppson said, citing the media attention that followed reports from customers of the critters being found last year in some stores and a ritzy hotel in New York City.
"Locally, they're common in a lot of the older hotels that have more transient populations," Jeppson said. "Apartments and assisted living centers also seem to have more issues with bedbugs."
No state or local law requires that infestations be reported because although the nocturnal insects are a nuisance, they are not known to transmit any diseases, Jeppson said.
"But some people have a nasty reaction to the bites and if they continue to scratch the bites, they can get a secondary infection," he said.
Although having bedbugs in a
business or apartment does not require the owners to report it, the health district does
issue permits for hotels and motels so it monitors complaints, said Jeanne Rucker, the district's environmental health specialist supervisor.
"We do respond to those facilities if we receive a complaint about bedbugs," she said.
Rucker estimates the department receives about 100 to 125 complaints annually, but not all those complaints have resulted in confirmed cases of bedbugs.
She declined to name which local hotels or motels have had confirmed cases of bedbugs so far this year.
"I can't remember all of them so I would rather not single one out," Rucker said. "It's a pretty widespread problem. There probably isn't a facility in town that hasn't had at least one complaint."

"Generally, if we find one or two rooms we treat those rooms and all the rooms around it," she said.
One problem is bedbugs are the camels of the bedroom -- able to survive for months without a blood meal from a human or animal host.
"That's one of the issues," Rucker said. "Another is that, depending on the insect's various stage of development, they can be hard to see."
The best way to check for bedbugs is to look for traces of their breakfast.
"Look for blood staining on the mattress or the bed linen," Rucker said -- not the obvious kind forensic experts would find at a crime scene, either, but miniscule pinhead-sized black dots that look like ground pepper.
Rucker also recommends asking hotel and motel managers outright if they have had bedbug activity lately at their lodgings.
"I think sometimes they would be honest about it because it's such a common occurrence now," she said. "Most large hotels have aggressive programs. But for weekly motels, it's a little harder for management to control it because tenants might be there for months on end and they might not be sensitive to the bites so management wouldn't know anything about it."
Jeppson said it is possible to get rid of bedbugs but it isn't easy since they can be on clothing, shoes, luggage, in carpets, upholstered furniture and other items in addition to mattresses.
"It's best to bring in a professional pest control company when you have bedbugs because it is very difficult for the average person to get rid of them," he said.
"And I'd think twice about taking that La-Z-Boy recliner left sitting on the side of the road," Jeppson said. "I'd be pretty wary of buying second-hand stuff, too, or at least look things over closely, especially things like a second-hand mattress or box springs. That's probably the way most people bring in bedbugs is with contaminated used mattresses and boxed springs."
"Generally, if we find one or two rooms we treat those rooms and all the rooms around it," she said.
One problem is bedbugs are the camels of the bedroom -- able to survive for months without a blood meal from a human or animal host.
"That's one of the issues," Rucker said. "Another is that, depending on the insect's various stage of development, they can be hard to see."
The best way to check for bedbugs is to look for traces of their breakfast.
"Look for blood staining on the mattress or the bed linen," Rucker said -- not the obvious kind forensic experts would find at a crime scene, either, but miniscule pinhead-sized black dots that look like ground pepper.
Rucker also recommends asking hotel and motel managers outright if they have had bedbug activity lately at their lodgings.
"I think sometimes they would be honest about it because it's such a common occurrence now," she said. "Most large hotels have aggressive programs. But for weekly motels, it's a little harder for management to control it because tenants might be there for months on end and they might not be sensitive to the bites so management wouldn't know anything about it."
Jeppson said it is possible to get rid of bedbugs but it isn't easy since they can be on clothing, shoes, luggage, in carpets, upholstered furniture and other items in addition to mattresses.
"It's best to bring in a professional pest control company when you have bedbugs because it is very difficult for the average person to get rid of them," he said.
"And I'd think twice about taking that La-Z-Boy recliner left sitting on the side of the road," Jeppson said. "I'd be pretty wary of buying second-hand stuff, too, or at least look things over closely, especially things like a second-hand mattress or box springs. That's probably the way most people bring in bedbugs is with contaminated used mattresses and boxed springs."

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