Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Bed bugs, which are making their presence felt in this country, are non-flying, parasitic insects about the size of apple seeds.
Bed bugs are making a comeback.
"So far for 2010, we've exceeded 500 bed bug exterminations," said Bob Wilford, branch manager for Orkin Pest Control's Chesterfield Township branch. "Between 2008 and 2009, bed bug-related service calls increased 180 percent. At this point, we're on track for the same increase this year."
Compared to other Orkin branches throughout the Midwest, Wilford said his office, which serves Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties, is executing the greatest number of exterminations.
Beg bugs are non-flying, parasitic insects about the size of apple seeds. They feed exclusively on warm-blooded animals, preferably humans.
But because they do not carry disease, or present any significant health risk, Michigan public health code does not require the reporting of bed bug infestations, according to Sue Tremonti, a public health services coordinator for the Macomb County Health Department. Voluntary reporting of unusual outbreaks is encouraged, however, Tremonti said.
To contact the health department, in Macomb County call (586) 469-5235, in Oakland County, (248) 858-1000.
Although the state does not officially track infestations, according to James McCurtis of the Michigan Department of Community Health, hot beds include, in order, low-income rental housing, multi-unit rental housing, adult foster care facilities, long-term care facilities, homeless shelters and single family dwellings.
"Bed bugs are a nuisance bug," said Jeffrey Band, director of infectious disease and international medicine for Beaumont hospitals. "From San Francisco to Philadelphia, this year seems to be a heavy year."
The most common sign of infestation is repeated drops of blood on the bed sheets. While bed bugs do leave clusters or lines of tiny red marks on their victims, not everyone's bites are visible.
"Getting rid of beg bugs is a huge undertaking and potentially very expensive," Tremonti said.
At Oakland University in Rochester, a Sept. 1 bed bug scare is now being called a false alarm.
"Someone was sure they had bed bugs," said Jim Zentmeyer, director of university housing for Oakland University. "But we brought out the extermination crew and it proved out to be clean.
"Every now and then (the bed bug issues) pops up. But it can be contained. Nine out of 10 times it's a false alarm."
Bed bugs were all but eradicated in this country following World War II with the use of powerful chemicals such as DDT. As hitchhikers, however, recent increases are attributed to international travel, and the ban of DDT, due to environmental safety issues.
According to Gene White, of Rose Pest Control's Detroit office, bed bugs are often unknowingly transported in luggage, clothing, or other belongings, carried by people who travel. Hotels, motels, and apartments, where turnover of occupants is constant, can be infestation hot beds. Bed bug infestations also take hold by bringing infested furniture, mattresses, or used clothing into the home. Bed bugs also travel between units in multi-unit buildings.
While urban areas and areas of crowding are more prone to infestations, cleanliness is not an issue, Band said.
"People say: 'I keep a very clean house, why do I have bed bugs?'" said Band, adding that bed bugs are attracted to warmth and carbon dioxide. "Usually it has nothing to do with cleanliness.
Although the extermination process can be tedious, Band said, "with a good, proactive company, you will be able to get rid of them."
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