COLUMBUS, OH - Bedbugs have been creeping from American
households into hotels and now businesses, too.
That's why the Central Ohio Bed Bug Task Force held its
fourth-annual summit yesterday on how to deal with the growing
What was once a household problem now affects many more areas of
people's lives, said Susan Jones, associate professor of entomology
at Ohio State University.
"Bedbugs are a growing problem statewide," she said. "They're
hitchhikers, and they easily travel from location to location."
Columbus has seen a surge in bedbug complaints - from about
2,200 in 2009 to about 6,700 last year, according to the Ohio
Department of Health.
Bedbugs are parasitic creatures that generally feed off human
blood and live in mattresses, on fabric or wood surfaces or among
clutter. Their bites typically create raised, itchy red welts on
They are increasingly showing up in offices and businesses as
bedbugs travel from people's homes on clothing and possessions,
according to the task force.
Paul Wenning, special-projects coordinator for Franklin County
Public Health, said business owners should let employees know the
scope of any outbreak in their businesses and what chemicals will
be used to kill them.
"Bedbugs are a common enough phenomenon in Columbus that you can
pick them up at the bus. You can pick them up at the store,"
Wenning said. "Anyone can get bedbugs."
Outbreaks in businesses are usually confined to very small areas
and rarely do they necessitate closing the whole office, he said.
"There's no reason to panic."
Employees should seal belongings in plastic bags when they come
to work and own a pair of shoes they wear only in the office, to
keep from taking the bugs home.
In a survey by the National Pest Management Association, 38
percent of exterminators reported responding to complaints about
bedbugs in offices this year, up from 18 percent in 2010, Gene
Harrington, vice president of the organization, said. "This is a
problem that is not getting better. It's increasing."