Many people nowadays have never seen a bed bug, a blood-sucking insect assumed to exist only in underdeveloped countries and impoverished neighborhoods. However, more and more Americans are now finding themselves aghast with the sight of real bed bugs infesting their homes. An article published in the Journal of American Medical Association in April discusses the consequences of bed bug bites, and ways to prevent them, Jane Brody writes in the New York Times.
Authors of the newly published article attribute the resurgence of bed bugs in developed countries to “international travel, immigration, changes in pest control practices, and insecticide resistance.” The critters hitchhike with travelers from continent to continent, resulting in significantly higher numbers of infestations in the United States, Canada, and Australia in recent years.
While most victims of bed bugs do not react, about 30 percent of those bitten will have “small, pink, itchy bumps” that resemble mosquito bites. These bumps can be treated with oral or topical anti-itch product, such as antihistamine or calamine lotion. More sensitive people may develop intense itching and infections. Other more extreme reactions include asthma, generalized hives and a life-threatening allergy that should be treated immediately.
So how should we prevent these bugs from entering our homes? Authors of the article suggest careful inspection before buying second-handed mattresses, sofas, cushioned chairs and similar furnishings. They also advise against picking up discarded furnitures. And if you must take the clothes left out by your neighbors, you should wash them immediately in hot water or have them dry cleaned. Travelers should also be vigilant when packing and unpacking, searching for bugs that may have climbed into their luggages.
Lastly, if your home has already been infested by bed bugs, it’s recommended that you hire a professional exterminator, which costs more than home remedies but is much more effective in warding off the pests.