'Pervasive' bedbug woes in U.S., survey finds
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
NEW YORK - One in five Americans has either had
an experience with bedbugs themselves or knows someone who has and
a majority say the tiny blood-suckers are a source of worry for
them, according to a new survey.
Seventy eight percent of respondents were most concerned about
infested hotels, while others said they were wary of picking them
up at work, at the doctor's, at the movie theater or on public
"I was surprised just how pervasive the problem is," said Missy
Henriksen, a vice president at the National Pest Management
Association, which commissioned the online survey of 504
Bedbugs, which are about the size of a
grain of rice and flat-shaped, like to nestle in furniture and
bedding upholstery and are notoriously difficult to get rid of.
Exterminators use powerful chemicals to rid apartments of bugs,
an invasive process that forces tenants to temporarily move
Young renters who live in cities are most vulnerable to bedbugs,
the survey showed.
Some respondents said they changed their routines to minimize
the likelihood of encountering the bug.
A quarter of respondents have checked a hotel room for bedbugs
and 12 percent have changed or canceled travel plans for fear of
the pest. Others said they checked second-hand furniture and store
Having a bedbug infested home can also hurt people's social
lives. A third of respondents said they would not invite friends
who had the infestation into their homes, as people can carry
bedbugs around on their clothing.
But the poll also found wide-spread misinformation about
bedbugs. Nearly half believed, incorrectly, that bedbugs transmit
disease to humans and more than a quarter thought they are more
common in lower income households and dirty homes.
"The truth is that bedbugs do not discriminate in regard to
cleanliness, nor do they prefer one socio-economic class to
another," Henriksen said.
"Bedbugs are found in penthouses and five-star hotels as well as
in low-income housing and budget motels."