Just the thought of bed bugs is enough to make you say "Ew!" and start to scratch.
Bed bugs are on the move, and even the most posh hotels and affluent areas of a city can have an infestation. Bed bugs know no economic boundaries.
Based on the bed bug treatments it performed in U.S. cities in 2011, Orkin has identified the top 25 cities that are infested with bed bugs.
Ew! U.S. cities with the most bed bugs:
5. Los Angeles
6. Columbus, Ohio
7. Dallas/Fort Worth
8. Washington, D.C.
9. New York
12. San Francisco/Oakland/San Jose
16. Las Vegas
24. Miami/Fort Lauderdale
25. Colorado Springs/Pueblo
Bed bugs can multiply quickly, so early detection is critical to preventing a larger infestation.
"Bed bugs can be found in other places than the bedroom," warns Orkin entomologist and technical services director Ron Harrison, Ph.D. "They're great hitchhikers and tend to settle where people sleep, particularly in hotel rooms, but they can also crawl into personal belongings and make their way into planes, gyms, offices, stores and worse, your home."
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, bed bugs can carry more than 30 different human pathogens, but there is no evidence that bed bugs can transmit diseases. Their bites can; however, leave itchy welts on their victims. Red marks or swelling may also develop.
"One thing that's not a factor is sanitation," said Dr. Harrison. "Be sure to do some investigating when you arrive at your hotel, whether it's a one-star or a five-star property. Bed bugs are nocturnal and resemble apple seeds in size and color, so check mattress seams, sheets and furniture, behind baseboards, electrical outlet plates and picture frames for small reddish-brown spots and lightly-colored molted bed bug skins."
How to prevent bed bugs from hitching a ride home with you:
When traveling, think of the acronym S.L.E.E.P. to remember the following action steps to help avoid bringing bed bugs home with you:
- Survey surfaces for signs of an infestation, such as tiny rust-colored spots on bed sheets, mattress tags and seams and bed skirts.
- Lift and look for all bed bug hiding spots, including underneath the mattress, bed frame, headboard and furniture. Typically, they come out at night to feed, but during the day, they are most likely found within a five-foot radius of the bed.
- Elevate your luggage on a luggage rack away from the bed and wall, since bed bugs can often hide behind head boards, artwork, picture frames and electrical outlet panels.
- Examine your luggage carefully while repacking and when you return home. Always keep luggage off the bed and store it in a closet or other area, far away from your bedroom.
- Place all your clothing from your luggage immediately in the dryer for at least 15 minutes at the highest setting upon returning home from travel.
--From the Editors at Netscape