The average human will spend 33 years of their life in bed. Who wants to share that time with bugs who like to snack on your blood? Bed bugs feed on people as they sleep, and no continent is safe from these sneaky pests.
Findings by The National Pest Management Association (NPMA) revealed that in 2010, 95% of pest control respondents in the U.S. indicated their company or organization encountered a bed bug infestation in the past year. Numbers were equally high in other areas, but no region across the world was immune.
Naturally, the question arises: “Are bed bugs dangerous?”
THE DANGERS OF BED BUGS
While bed bugs are annoying and may make life difficult, the truth is that they are not dangerous. They don’t carry disease like some other pests do.
So if you’re dealing with a bed bug infestation or some have hitchhiked in your luggage after traveling, you can breathe a sigh of relief that they’re not going to make you sick. However, that doesn’t mean you want them around.
BED BUG BASICS
Bed bugs are small, flat insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown, wingless, and adults are about the size of an apple seed. They can live for several months without a blood meal.
While people may consider bed bugs a sign of poor hygiene, their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of living conditions. They can and have infested 5-star hotels and upscale apartments and houses. They are usually found around or near the areas where people sleep: apartments, hotels, cruise ships, shelters, trains, dorm rooms, etc.
Bed bugs hide during the day in small places like the seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, dresser tables, luggage, baseboards, inside cracks or crevices, or in objects around a bed. They are also good hitchhikers (in suitcases, backpacks, clothing, shoes, etc.), which leads to the spread of infestations.
People usually discover bed bugs after noticing they’ve been bitten. Other signs include finding the bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets, bug exoskeletons after they’ve molted, rusty-colored spots on mattresses or nearby furniture, or a sweet, musty odor.
HEALTH RISKS OF BED BUGS
Bed bugs do not transmit diseases, but there are health risks associated with them. The most common issue is related to bed bug bites, which affect people differently. Many experience red bumps or welts on their skin. These often don’t show up for a couple of days, though for some, it can take up to two weeks.
Bites from bed bugs look similar to a mosquito bite but tend to last much longer (two weeks or more). For many people, these bites itch constantly, and the scratching is what causes problems. Excessive scratching can lead to infections, and in some cases, people may have a serious allergic reaction.
So, are bed bugs dangerous? Without a doubt, they are a huge nuisance. And the inconvenience that comes with loss of sleep, bite care, treatment costs, and bug removal can easily morph into danger if the situation affects driving safety, job performance, or other circumstances requiring alertness and your full attention.
PREVENTING BED BUGS
The good news is that there are measures you can take to avoid a bed bug infestation in your home.
- Whenever you travel, carefully check your sleeping area and luggage before returning home.
- Inspect your bed thoroughly for signs of bed bugs each time you change the bedding.
- When you return from overnight trips, leave your suitcase in the garage or other areas away from where you sleep.
- Wash travel clothes immediately after you return home. Items that can’t be washed can be run through the dryer for 20 to 30 minutes. The heat can kill bed bugs and their eggs.
- Vacuum your bed and surrounding area frequently.
- Keep the area around your bed free of clutter.
- Use year-round pest control services to keep bed bugs from getting a foothold in your home.
When bed bugs do invade, getting rid of them usually requires chemical treatments. The safest and most effective route is to hire an experienced pest control professional. If you think some of these sneaky pests have found their way into your home, contact American Pest Control to take back your bedroom and sleep peacefully again.