Don't Let Bed Bugs Bite, Region Says
Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Niagara residents are being cautioned by the Region's public health department to take precautions to avoid bringing bed bugs into their homes.

The Region, which issued an alert about a surge in bedbug infestations last August, said on Feb. 8 that people need to be aware of how to avoid having their own infestation.

The same week that the Region issued the alert last summer, the U.S. National Pest Management Association issued sobering statistics from a new survey, showing explosive growth in the number of exterminators' calls regarding infestations everywhere from buses and taxis to nursing homes, office buildings, schools and hotels/motels in the last year.

For many people, bed bugs are a relic of a bygone era, conjuring up images of filthy tenement housing in big cities like New York City back in the Depression.

But the tenacious little bloodsuckers hung on, and now in a world where people travel more than ever before, they're back with a vengeance, hitching rides on things such as suitcases and clothing and establishing new colonies in homes, businesses and anywhere else where there's human blood to gorge on.

Peter Jekel, with the public health department, said the presence of bed bugs doesn't reflect a lack of cleanliness: they can be found in five-star hotels, buses and gleaming cruise ships. People opting to take a break from winter this month and next months can take the following steps to protect themselves from bed bugs, he said:

  • Try to avoid booking a hotel with a bedbug problem.
  • Use luggage with hard, smooth plastic without inviting pockets, since bed bugs struggle over smooth surfaces and polished metal.
  • Pack clothes into oversized, sealable plastic bags and leave them inside luggage during the trip, or hanging in the closet - never on the bed or floor.
  • Leave luggage outside the room and perform an inspection around the bed: peel back the bed sheets and check the mattress for blood stains and bed bug feces. Run your fingers along the upper and lower seams of the mattress and make sure to check the headboard.
  • Check the bedside table. Look for signs of bed bugs in the drawers and along the wall on the side of the bed that is less likely to be disturbed by cleaning staff and guests.
  • If you detect bed bugs, be sure to inform hotel management and request another room. But just moving to a different room may not be the total answer: You should repeat the inspection of any new or different room you are offered.
  • When you pack to leave, inspect your luggage carefully and inspect every item as you pack to help detect any bugs or signs.
  • After your trip, unpack luggage outdoors, re-inspect clothing and then put everything into the dryer on the highest setting possible for at least 30 minutes or steam clean (for delicates). Vacuum your luggage thoroughly.
  • If you find bed bugs or their droppings, if you have bites or know that you have spent time in a room with bed bugs, vacuum your suitcases and dispose of the vacuum bag. Washable items should be laundered in the hottest water possible and dried on the highest setting possible for 30 minutes.