You may not have invited them into your bed, but bloodsucking creatures known as bed bugs are making a return to the United States. President of Gafford Pest Control, Tim Gafford says, "They were very common back in the turn of the century, and in the 20's, 30's and 40's but with a different kind of product they were able to control them very well. Those products are no longer on the market. It's believed, that plus sanitation issues have possibly brought the rise of bed bugs back."
Nationwide, pest control services have seen a 20% increase in bed bug infestations in hotels and homes. Here, in Lubbock, Gafford Pest Control is seeing bed bugs for the first time. Gafford says, "I don't feel like it's a big problem in Lubbock necessarily but we have seen more instances than we've seen in the last few years or ever really."
These bed bugs came from a Lubbock hotel. The small bugs are just 3/16th to a fifth of an inch long. Their flat shape makes it easy for them to hide in cracks and crevices. It's easy to transport the bugs from place to place, making hotels vulnerable because of constant travelers. Gafford says, "They can attach themselves and transport themselves in a variety of ways like getting in clothing more than likely."
Since, they come out at night, you probably won't see the bugs, until it's too late. Dr. Satich Patel, Medical Director of the Emergency Department at Covenant Medical Center sees at least one bed bug bite a day. Dr. Patel says, "We see several, often because people are always concerned once they get one, what are they and how do they need to treat them."
Bed bug bites create large flat wheels of bites in orderly rows but are often mistaken for spider bites. Dr. Patel says, 'It can look like a little blister. Some people react and it causes a blister with a little fluid in that area but it's a sterile fluid and it's not harmful or it can look like a regular bug bite."
The only danger is if you over-itch the bites. Dr. Patel says, "The biggest thing we worry about is scratching a lot. It can get infected and can cause cellulitis which is an infection of the layer of skin. If you run a fever or it starts streaking, red streaks up and down skin, it's real warm in that area and you'll probably need to come in soon so we can start you on antibiotics."
For most healthy people, bed bugs aren't dangerous. But you probably don't want to share your bed with them. You can check for an infestation by looking at the edges of your mattresses and base boards. Bugs often leave red or brown excrement, so look for dark spots on a mattress.
If you do have an infestation, you need to call a professional to exterminate the problem. You can prevent bed bugs by keeping the sheets changed often. Or you can take a vacuum to the mattress on a regular basis.
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