Bed bugs are small insects that feed mainly on human blood. They are often confused with other insects, and many people are not even aware of their presence until they have been bitten. However, not everyone has a reaction to bed bug bites. You may not discover that you have bed bugs until you see other signs of the pests such as, bed bugs themselves, their eggs or droppings, or the blood stains they leave behind in mattresses, box springs, chairs or other materials.
Bed bugs spread mainly by hitchhiking onto furniture, luggage and clothing, and by traveling along spaces that connect apartments, and rooms in commercial and institutional settings. Effective control requires cooperation with your neighbors, landlord and pest management provider. It is hard but not impossible to get rid of bed bugs. Do not try to get rid of them on your own. Get help from a well-trained and licensed pest management professional. Anyone can get bed bugs. Seek help immediately if you find them.
Bed Bugs and Health
Although bed bugs and their bites are a nuisance, they are not known to spread disease. Other health-related consequences have been noted:
- Bed bug bites can be very itchy and irritating. Most welts heal in a few days but in unusual cases, the welt may persist for several weeks. An anti-itching ointment can help, but if bites become infected, people should see their doctor.
- The anxiety about being bitten can lead to sleeplessness, which can affect well-being. Properly and effectively responding to bed bugs helps to keep anxiety in check.
- Some people become so desperate that they use illegal or excessive amounts of pesticides which can lead to poisonings.
About the Data and Indicators
Estimates of numbers and percentages of adults reporting bed bugs in their homes are measured using survey data. The accuracy of the survey data depends on the participants’ ability to recall and correctly report the presence of bed bugs.
Prevention and Control
In New York City, building owners are required by law to provide apartments free of pests, but residents can also take steps to prevent the spread of bed bugs:
- Never bring bed frames, mattresses, box springs or upholstered furniture found on the street into your home, and check all used or rented furniture for bed bugs.
- When traveling, inspect the bed and furniture. Keep suitcases off the floor and bed, and inspect them before you leave.
- If you suspect you have been around bed bugs, immediately wash and dry your clothing on hot settings, or store items in a sealed plastic bag until you can.
- Seal cracks and crevices with caulk, even if you don’t have bed bugs. This will help prevent pests from coming in and spreading to other locations.
- Do not use pesticide bombs or foggers to control pests, because they can make conditions worse. Get professional help to control bed bugs.
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