Bedbugs and Your Health
By Sheryl Kraft
Every time I hear a report about bedbugs – which is so often these days – my body shivers. Maybe it’s partly because they’re so tiny and it’s hard to see them. It’s like knowing there’s an invader in your home, hiding out somewhere…and you might not know they’re coming - until it’s too late.
And there are some other really legit reasons for the “ick” factor:
- They attack us when we’re sleeping - and we don’t usually know it until the next day.
- They inject an anesthetic (sneaky!) so that we don’t feel their sting until we wake up.
- They hide out in places you can’t easily see, like corners of mattresses, under carpeting, light switch plates, electrical outlets and behind headboards. They can also take cover in curtains, inside dressers or other furniture, cracks in wallpaper and inside the spaces of wicker furniture.
- They hitch a ride home with you via your suitcase or your clothing. They’ve even been found in stores like Victoria’s Secret, Hollister and Abercrombie and Fitch:
- They leave ugly red marks on your face, arms, neck, lower legs and hands that resemble those caused by other blood-sucking insects like mosquitoes and fleas. Not pretty.
- They can cause severe itching, blisters or hives if you’re allergic. And if you scratch madly, you can wind up with a secondary infection.
- They can mess up your beautiful sheets with bloodstains – which look like little tiny magic marker spots.
- They don’t care about cleanliness – if your house is so clean you can eat off the floor, that’s no guarantee against the lil’ vampires.
- Since DDT – which used to be effectively used to combat bedbugs (BUT at the expense of our health) – and other insecticides have been restricted, there’s yet to be a magic bullet against their spread (which is also increasing due to increased immigration and travel).
- Adult bedbugs can live up to a full year – without feeding.
This matters> If there is a silver lining in this bedbug invasion, it’s this: Rest assured, the CDC and many other health agencies tell us, bedbugs are NOT believed to transmit any infectious diseases. (However, what they DO transmit is lots of psychological trauma and social stigma.)
This matters, too> Don’t be tempted by that discarded furniture by the side of the road. There may be bedbugs lurking there. Same goes for any used furniture. If it’s just too special to pass up, make sure you thoroughly inspect every inch for telltale bedbug infestation.
For more in-depth news on the subject:
You might also want to read what happened in 2009:
Here’s an account of someone who survived bedbugs: