Bed bugs are exceptionally small, flat insects that are considered to be a public health nuisance as a result of their parasitic nature and attraction to blood.
Bed bug infestations have been a common occurrence throughout our history, as a nation; however, in the mid part of the 20th century, the population of these parasitic insects dropped. In recent years, there has been a resurgence. While the underlying reason is not known, many theories abound.
The first is that there is a higher level of travel among individuals.
The next is that the creatures have become resistant to the pesticides sold in stores.
Finally, many public health agencies and programs have been eliminated due to the historical absences of the insects.
Bed bugs are here again and they are appropriately identified as a public health nuisance. Continue reading to learn more about their impact and to learn how to eliminate populations from your home if you develop an infestation.
Public Health Impact
Numerous studies have been performed regarding bed bugs and their impact on the health of people. To date, there is no evidence that the insects are capable of transmitting any type of disease; however, they do feed on the blood of people and animals. In terms of human populations, bed bugs may cause many detrimental health effects on a physiological and psychological level. Furthermore, there are many negative economic-based consequences associated with infestations. For the purpose and intent of this guide, we will place an emphasis on the health consequences associated with bed bug infestations.
When a person receives a bite from a bed bug, it results in immediate discomfort to the skin. A small bump may develop or a large reaction may occur on the impacted skin. Furthermore, an allergic reaction may develop. This could be a skin-only reaction, or it could be as severe as a reaction that involves the entire body. For those that react negatively to bed bug bites, several issues may develop, stemming from a post-bite infection. These include:
- The development of impetigo, which is a skin infection caused by a bacterium that is considered to be highly contagious. It causes red spots on the skin that develop into blisters. The blisters may burst and then go through an oozing process, which results in the formation of a yellow-colored crust-like scab.
- The onset of ecthyma, which is a devastating skin condition that results in sores that are crusted over and develop underlying ulcers. It is, by all accounts, a more severe form of impetigo as it is caused by the same bacteria.
- An inflammation of the lymphatic-based system of the body, called “lymphangitis” may occur. Once the bed bug bites, a sore will appear. A bit later, a red streak will form on the skin that goes from the bite to the nearest gland that contains lymph. The streaks may blister and immense discomfort may be experienced.
In addition to the physical effects that may stem from bed bug bites, there are many mental problems that may develop from a bed bug infestation.
Many may suffer from anxiety because the bed bug population reaches high levels and treatment is often considered to be expensive. It is common for systemic reactions to occur from the bites that result in issues with discomfort, which could result in varying degrees of depression.
Additionally, many may find that they are unable to rest or sleep comfortably at night because of the feeding that occurs with the parasitic insects. This could lead to insomnia, which could lead to anxiety, depression, mood swings, and a decrease in cognitive functioning.
Bed Bug Symptoms
There are several symptoms and situations that may be experienced if your home has a bed bug infestation. The following outlines these:
- If you develop flat welts on your body that are red in color, are in little clusters, or form lines that look like zig zags, you may have bed bugs.
- If you find it difficult to sleep at night because of itchiness, the development of welts on the body, and similar forms of discomfort, this could mean that an infestation is occurring in your home and the parasitic insects are attempting to feed.
- If you notice stains on your bed that look like rust or brown exoskeletons, this could be a bed bug symptom.
- Smells that resemble that of a locker room may, in fact, be the pheromones released by bed bugs.
- If you observe small movements, this could be bed bugs.
How Do You Get Rid of Bed Bugs?
As stated previously, bed bugs are often resistant to the over-the-counter products that are currently available. In order to prevent and/or eliminate bed bugs, you should start by ensuring that all mattresses and pillows are encased with specially-designed covers that reduce allergens and keep the products bed bug free.
You should also ensure that your home is kept clutter-free. If you discover any infested clothes, towels, or sheets, you should launder them in very hot water. Any holes, cracks, or crevices going in or out of the home should be caulked to ensure that they are sealed. All areas of the home should be cleaned, thoroughly. It is ideal to use steam cleaners on rugs, carpets, furniture, and similar areas.
Heat Treatments Offer the Best Solution Possible
Treating and eliminating a bed bug infestation is a challenging endeavor. Attempting to use over-the-counter products and cleaning alone may not be enough to successfully conquer the situation. According to those in the pest control field, the most effective treatment is professional heat treatment. This is a highly safe treatment option that does not involve the use of chemicals. It is not only the safest option for pets and people, it is considered to be the safest option for the environment.