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December 20, 2010

Be Aware Monday

bed bugs

If you are like many Americans, the thought of bedbugs evokes images of straw beds on dirt floors during medieval times. However, the reality is that these small, reddish-brown parasites are an ever-present and increasing problem in today's society as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, the recent bedbug resurgence, most concentrated in large cities, has been mainly attributed to a rise in international travel, increased insecticide resistance, and changes in pesticide use.

Found in mattresses, headboards, box springs and bed frames, these small critters come out at night and can cause large itchy bumps on some people while not affecting others at all. Use a flashlight to search these crevices around your bed, especially when traveling to hotels and other high-volume sleeping accommodations; small, red blood spots on sheets can indicate their presence. During the day, bedbugs often take cover in clothes and luggage. When traveling, be sure to keep your luggage off the floor and beds. When you return home, vacuum your luggage and immediately wash all of the clothes inside with warm water.

If you find bedbugs at a hotel, be sure to notify the hotel desk immediately. If you find them at home, do not try to eliminate them yourself. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services suggests attaching one bug to a piece of white paper using a clear piece of tape and to have a pest control professional verify that it is a bedbug. If it is, contact a pest control company to help eliminate the infestation. For more information on bedbugs, visit here.

Every Monday, the Johns Hopkins Healthy Monday Project, part of the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, offers tips for preventing disease and injury, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Check back each week for new tips or visit our archive.