The Norman Transcript

March 11, 2013

Don’t let spring break include bed bugs

By Brenda Hill
The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — With visions of sandy beaches or snow-covered mountains, many families and college students are making plans for spring break.

Whether you are heading to the beach or the slopes, or any place in between, spring break is a great time to create lasting memories. While you are sure to want to pick up a souvenir T-shirt or coffee mug, the last thing you want to bring home is bed bugs.

Bed bugs are hard to eliminate. The best way to keep from bringing them home is to look around before getting settled.

Bed bugs are small, flat parasitic insects that mainly feed on the blood of people. Unfortunately, bed bugs can be found just about everywhere across the globe and they are not picky. Their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions. Five-star hotels, fancy resorts and budget motels can all be home to bed bugs. Don’t forget cruise ships, boarding houses, hostels and dorm rooms.

Bed bugs hide during the day in seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dressers, night stands, behind wallpaper, inside cracks and crevices and any other stuff around the bed.

Look at a picture of the bugs and know what they look like before you leave. Look for clues to determine if bed bugs have infested the area. Look around the seams of the mattress and box springs for bed bugs themselves or their exoskeletons after molting. Check to see if the mattress or box springs has rust-colored blood spots due to blood-filled fecal material they excrete.

Bitemarks from bed bugs can take a while to develop, or in some people, never show up at all, so it is vital to check your surroundings first thing. Bed bugs hide in the smallest places and stay there for long periods of time. They are transported from place to place as people travel. They can get into luggage, overnight bags, folded clothing and bedding.

Most people do not realize they are giving these pesky pests a free ride to a new location. It is always a good idea to keep your suitcase up off the floor, and preferably on the luggage rack provided in your room. This will help keep bed bugs out of your suitcase so you won’t inadvertently bring them home.

Bed bugs are not known to transmit disease. The best treatment for bites includes antiseptic creams or lotions. If the itching is bad you may consider taking an antihistamine.

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