The Illinois Department of Health says bed bugs are making a comeback across the state. Though they aren't known to transmit disease, bed bug bites can cause an intense itch, and scratching can lead to secondary infections. The health department blames increase on more worldwide travel and less effective insecticides.
Bed bugs are small, flat insects, usually reddish-brown and up to 1/4 inch long. At night bed bugs leave their hiding places in mattresses, box springs, bed frames, nightstand, curtains, couches, and wall voids, and behind baseboards, door and window frames, and carpet edges to feed.
Signs of infection:
- Spots of blood left on bed sheets indicate bed bug biting
- Brownish-black specks (feces) and bed bug "shells" (shed exoskeletons) indicate a bed bug infestation.
- A peculiar musty raspberry odor from bed bug secretions may be noticed where many bed bugs are present.
How bed bugs are spread:
- Bed bugs attach to luggage, backpacks, clothing, beds and furniture, and move when and where those objects are moved.
- Bed bug outbreaks are often traced to travel, particularly travel in a country where bed bugs are common.
- Use of secondhand furniture, particularly beds and couches, is another way bed bugs can spread.
- Also, bed bugs can quickly spread from one unit to the next in multi-unit dwellings such as apartment buildings.
To prevent getting bed bug:
- Keep all beds pulled slightly away from walls, furniture, and curtains. Make sure bedclothes don't touch the floor. Wrap carpet tape or duct tape (sticky side out) around bed legs, or sue traps, to prevent bed bugs from climbing onto beds.
- Keep the floor under and around beds free of clutter.
- Change sheets and pillow cases weekly (wash in either hot water or machine dry at medium or high heat).
- Use fitted sheets on the mattress, or tuck sheets under the mattress.
- Use light-colored sheets and check for discolored spots when removing them from the bed.
- Look fro signs of bed bugs along the seams of the mattress in places you stay (hotels, motels) and keep your bags and luggage off the floor and bed.
- Do not place anything (luggage, blanket, pillows, stuffed toys) that may contain bed bugs onto any bed. Be particularly careful when returning from a trip.
- Only sleep on beds. Do not sleep on couches or in upholstered chairs.
- Inspect all used furniture carefully for bed bugs before bringing it into a home, do not scavenge furniture left on the street
For more information on bed bugs, log onto www.idph.state.il.us/envhealth/pcbedbugs.htm