What are bed bugs?
Bed bugs, also known by the scientific name, Cimex lectularius are reddish-brown, flat and tiny blood sucking parasitic insects. They are very smallish with body size of about 1mm to 7mm. Bed bugs are nocturnal- they hide during the day and crawl out at night to feed on the blood of unsuspecting sleeping humans.
Where are bed bugs found?
Most people believe that bed bug infestation is a problem of only developing countries, but actually, bed bugs can be found in almost all parts of the world. From Africa to Asia, North/South America and Europe, these tiny bugs are fast spreading to new regions. Contrary to the traditional belief that bed bugs are only found in dirty places, these tiny bugs have now found their way into luxury apartments and five-star hotels.
Just as the name suggests, bed bugs like to dwell around beds and other places where people sleep. Therefore, you can find bedbugs anywhere people sleep, be it at homes, hotels, buses, dormitories, cruise ships or anywhere else people sleep. During the day, bed bugs hide in places like door frames, mattress seams, wall cracks, behind wall papers or any other hidden place close to the bed, from where they will crawl out at night to start feasting on sleeping humans.
Do bed bugs spread any disease?
Ideally, bed bugs are not disease vectors, but they can cause so much discomfort that can make sleeping very difficult. Also, scratching the skin after bed bug bite can increase the chances of contracting a secondary skin infection.
Is there any health risks associated with bed bugs?
Different people react to bed bug bite in different ways. Some show no bite marks, others develop small bite marks while others have bigger bite marks that can result in allergic reaction and skin lesion, which may require medical attention.
How to know when a place is infested with bed bugs
It’s quite easy to know that a person has been bitten by bed bugs when you see the reddish bite marks on the neck, arm or other parts of the body. It is however not sufficient to rely on bite marks alone, because in some people, bite marks take as long as 14 days before becoming visible. Other signs of bed bug infestation to look out for include
- A sweet musty odor
- Tiny exoskeletons of bed bugs left behind after molting
- Brownish blood spots on bed sheets as a result of excreting blood-stained urine and feces
- Presence of bed bugs in folds of sheets and seams of mattresses
How do I know when a bed bug bites me?
Bed bug may bite you for a very long time before you notice that you even have them in your home. When they bite, they inject their victims with an anticoagulant and anesthetic which prevents bleeding and reduces the sensation of pain; hence you may not know you’ve been bitten until bite marks become visible several days later. Even when the bite marks appear, they may be mistaken for mosquito or flea bites.
Beg bug bites differ from other bites by appearing randomly or in a straight line. Some symptoms that indicate you’ve been bitten by bed bug include anxiety, insomnia and excessive scratching of the affected area, which may cause skin irritation.
These symptoms however differ from person to person, as while some people do not show symptoms, others show mild bite marks, while some others show server symptoms like painful swelling and anaphylaxis in some very rare cases.
How did I get bed bugs?
Due to the very tiny size of bed bugs and their ability to stay for long periods without a blood meal, they can hide in very tiny corners and get transported from one place to the other. They can therefore hide in seams of bags and luggage, furniture or any other confined space, making it very easy for unsuspecting people to take them along as they travel.
Who is at risk of transporting bed bugs around?
Unfortunately, everyone is at risk of giving bed bugs free transportation. Travelers and people who share bed spaces and sleeping quarters are at a higher risk of not only being bitten by bed bugs, but also spreading them.
How can I treat and avoid bed bugs?
Luckily, bed bugs aren’t disease vectors, so there’s no serious medical threat associated with bed bug bite. If it causes you irritation, it is advised that you avoid scratching it. Instead, rub an antiseptic cream on the affected areas and take an antihistamine.
To prevent bed bug infestation, fumigate your house from time to time, and always check for signs of infestation, as earlier stated in this article.