The first thing to ask yourself: how much time and energy do you want to spend on bed bug prevention?

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Bed bugs: what travelers need to know this summer

By brown forestCNN

Something was wrong with Michelle Quinn.

In mid-February of this year, spots began to be noticed on the left side of the lower back. This 53-year-old resident of northwest Indiana thought he was allergic to his detergent.

Then the itching started to spread to other parts of the body – still on the left side. This added to the anxiety and mystery. “It was itchy, but I never thought it was bedbugs.”

Then one night after work – about two weeks later – the thought of bedbugs came to mind. He was Googling pictures of bedbugs when he noticed “a little reddish bedbug” crawling on a piece of paper on his sofa. He looked at the insect. Then on screen. Then to the insect again.

“I thought ‘no it can’t be’. And so I kind of deleted it and didn’t think about it until the next morning – when I woke up and saw some one on my arm. I took out my phone, put the image in the camera and zoomed in on it. a and, in fact, that’s exactly what it was. And that’s where I started to panic.”

Are we going to have a summer of bad news about bed bugs?

What Quinn started to struggle with last winter could be a harbinger of trouble this summer of travel.

“It’s hard to predict these kinds of things, but the backdrop of record increases in travel and understaffing in the hospitality industry is worrisome when it comes to bed bugs,” says Michael F. Potter, professor emeritus at the University’s Department of Entomology. University of Kentucky. .

While bedbug infestations can occur in all sorts of places, hotels and other accommodations are a major breeding ground, Potter says.

“The issue of staff shortages is a concern because the best way for hotels to prevent infestations from increasing is to remain vigilant. And the best way to do this is to have rooms regularly inspected by housekeepers. , who must be trained and educated to detect infestations in their early stages.”

The greater the shortage of personnel, the more difficult it becomes to maintain control of the situation, says Potter.

Is it helpful to ask directly about the bed bug situation at a property when checking in or booking?

“I think the reality is that the person at the front desk won’t be equipped to answer that question,” Potter says. “If I worked in the hospitality industry, I would teach my staff how to answer that question. But in terms of whether the guest will get something relevant by asking that question, I would say that’s extremely unlikely.”

Prevention tips for hotel rooms

The first thing to ask yourself: how much time and energy do you want to spend on bed bug prevention?

“Every traveler must decide how alert they are to bedbugs. Traveling is stressful enough – or can be – and we try to get away from whatever life throws at us,” Potter points out. “So the last thing you want to do is keep your suitcase in the tub, which some people recommend but I find stupid.”

There are less drastic measures you can take.

Potter suggests that before you even unpack, you do at least a cursory check of the bed. Pull the sheets and mattress covers and look around the seams of the mattress, especially at the head, for bed bugs or signs of bed bugs (more on that below).

Also check the seams of the mattress. This quick check won’t reveal every place a bed bug might be hiding, Potter says, but it gives you the best chance of spotting a problem with the least amount of effort.

One important thing to avoid: don’t put your suitcase on the floor in the corner. There’s no greater chance than bringing home bed bugs, Potter explains. Instead, place it on a raised surface, like the top of a dresser or chest. If there are two beds in a room, Potter doesn’t put his suitcase on the other bed.

The American Hotel & Lodging Association offers some additional tips:

– check as well as possible behind the head of the bed (it is difficult to check easily) and on sofas and armchairs; – if you see signs of bed bugs, inform the management immediately; request another room – preferably one that is not adjacent to the offending room; if you are not satisfied, go elsewhere if possible; – if you have detected bed bugs, remember to put a plastic garbage bag or a protective cover around your bag.

These are the signs of a bedbug infestation

The United States Environmental Protection Agency notes that other insects, such as carpet beetles, can be easily confused with bed bugs. Therefore, it is good to inform yourself before your inspection. And that probably includes looking at close-up photos.

Typically, adult bedbugs are about the size of an apple seed (5 to 7 millimeters or 3/16 to 1/4 inch in length). They are long and brown, with a flat, oval body, if they have not fed recently. They are balloon-shaped, reddish-brown, and more elongated if they have fed.

Young bed bugs are usually smaller and are translucent or whitish-yellow. If they haven’t fed recently, the nymphs can be almost invisible to the naked eye. Bed bug eggs are the size of a pinhead and are pearly white.

You may not see the insects themselves, but their telltale signs, which can include:

– rusty or reddish stains on sheets or mattresses (caused by crushing them); – dark spots the size of this point these spots are the droppings of bed bugs after they have fed on blood; – eggs and eggshells, which are quite small; – insect exoskeletons, which detach during their moult; – a mild musty smell if the infestation is heavy.

Bed bugs are more than a bed and motel problem

While overnight accommodation is a common culprit, the sad truth is that bedbugs can congregate and spread from multiple areas.

For example, Daniel K. Inouye International Airport in Honolulu, Hawaii had to close three gates in late May and deep clean areas after bed bugs were found. Three more treatments were completed, a Hawaii Department of Transportation spokesperson told CNN Travel.

Potter said schools, libraries, apartment buildings, movie theaters, hospitals, office buildings, taxis, buses, trains, dormitories and student dormitories in colleges can harbor bedbugs. of bed. He also notes that it’s just not practical to verify all of this and warns against paranoia.

But Potter has some advice for anyone who comes across bed bugs in a hotel or on Airbnb: “It’s bad enough if you get bitten in a hotel, but what you really don’t want to do is bring these things home.”

Potter says take everything out of your bag and put it in trash bags. Wash your clothes then dry them thoroughly – the heat of the dryer kills them.

When it comes to your suitcase, summer heat waves can be your friend. Just unzip the suitcase, put it in your car, park it outside, and the heat will kill the bedbugs within an hour, Potter reveals. If you can’t get around 60°C in your car, throw away your suitcase if you’re worried. It’s much cheaper than eradicating bed bugs from your home.

Medical and wellness issues

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has good news for anyone who has been attacked by bed bugs: they don’t transmit any disease (like mosquitoes transmit malaria or ticks transmit Lyme disease).

However, the itching caused by the bites can cause insomnia and minor skin infections if you scratch too often and too hard. And some people may have a severe allergic reaction.

The Cleveland Clinic outlines the typical treatment plan:

– gently wash the bites with soap and water; – use an anti-itch cream or lotion (look for 1% hydrocortisone) on your skin; – repeat 1 to 2 times a day until the itching disappears.

If the itching is severe, the clinic advises talking to a healthcare professional about a stronger steroid cream or over-the-counter or prescription antihistamine medication.

The effects on your mental well-being can be even more severe. People can feel anxious and even self-conscious, although experts say this isn’t reflected in personal hygiene or housekeeping.

“If we get bitten by a mosquito outside, we come back inside. If we have a bed bug infestation at home, it’s a bit more annoying,” Potter explains. “It’s like, ‘Am I going to get stung again tonight? Did I get rid of them all?’ bed bug problem at home.”

“We have become obsessed”

Michelle Quinn, who rents a house in northwest Indiana, can tell you all about the angst of being bitten.

First of all, she could never figure out where they came from. This irritated her. She took a trip to Washington, DC, in January, but didn’t realize she had been bitten until mid-February. Therefore, he does not believe that they came from his stay there.

“When that happens, we become obsessed,” Quinn explains. “It was a nightmare.”

He had to take a series of costly measures to rid his house of critters. It involved having professionals apply a nicotine-based pesticide that she had been told was safe for humans and cats (she has two). He also had to throw away the sofa and the vacuum cleaner, among other things. He thinks it all cost him at least $1,200.

Her last treatment was in May and since then she has been bed bug free. Except maybe mentally.

Determined not to get bitten again, she placed traps under her bed and under the legs of the couch, which she checks almost daily.

But his anxiety resurfaces whenever he feels itchy for some reason.

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