Bed Bugs How Not To Bring Them Home

How to Move Without Bringing Bed Bugs With You

Moving is stressful enough already. Dealing with moving companies, boxing up everything you own, and figuring out how you’re going to fit your grandmother’s armoire into a Prius is all more than enough to induce a migraine or two. You shouldn’t have to worry about bringing bed bugs with you while you’re moving.

Unfortunately, if you have bed bugs in your current residence (whether or not you even know that they’re there), there’s a good chance that they will follow your family to their next nesting ground. To top it off, addendums in the fine print pinning bed bug extermination costs on the tenant is an increasingly popular tactic among landlords.

Whether or not you’ve been waking up to bed bug bites, it would be smart to take a few simple precautions to insure that your new home isn’t exposed to an infestation. Here are a few things you can do to make the big move without bringing bed bugs along for a ride:

Launder your clothes, bedding, and pillows.

Before you pack away the clothes in your closet, throw them in the washer and dryer. Whether they’ve been worn recently or not, clothing is a very common hiding place for bed bugs. They’re easy to treat; the high heat setting on any dryer will kill bed bugs and their eggs in a short cycle. Do the same for your beds’ sheets, covers, pillowcases, and pillows. Just make sure to check the labels on each item so nothing gets damaged.

Use a portable bed bug heater.

Since your shoes and books won’t make it out of the dryer in the best shape, you’ll need another treatment method for them. Portable bed bug heaters, like the new ZappBug Oven, are perfect for heat-treating your belongings. A ZappBug can safely heat up your shoes, books, luggage, chairs, rugs, papers, bedding and more. It can be set up in minutes, and starts heating with a push of a button; within six hours, any bed bugs or eggs inside will be toast.

Use new packing material and boxes.

Asking neighbors, family members, and local stores for their empty boxes has always been a smart way to move on a budget. However, this does carry a risk of inviting bed bugs to join you on the ride to your new home. To avoid this, consider purchasing new, sealed boxes and packing materials. You can find everything you need at your local post office, office supply store, or business shipping center. Don’t open the packages until you’re ready to start packing, to prevent bed bugs from hiding in them.

Don’t buy used furniture.

In the same vein of avoiding used boxes and packing peanuts, you should definitely steer clear of used furniture. Couches and mattresses on the street are one of the most common ways that bed bug infestations spread. The previous owners may or may not have known that they even had bed bugs, but either way it’s simply not worth the risk. If you do come across a pre-owned sofa or loveseat that you can’t resist, treat it with a vacuum and steamer as soon as you bring it home – when done properly, this will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding inside the upholstery.

Do you have any advice for staying bed bug-free on the move? Don’t keep it to yourself; throw us a tip in the comments or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ page.

How to Move Without Bringing Bed Bugs With You

Moving is stressful enough already. Dealing with moving companies, boxing up everything you own, and figuring out how you’re going to fit your grandmother’s armoire into a Prius is all more than enough to induce a migraine or two. You shouldn’t have to worry about bringing bed bugs with you while you’re moving.

Unfortunately, if you have bed bugs in your current residence (whether or not you even know that they’re there), there’s a good chance that they will follow your family to their next nesting ground. To top it off, addendums in the fine print pinning bed bug extermination costs on the tenant is an increasingly popular tactic among landlords.

Whether or not you’ve been waking up to bed bug bites, it would be smart to take a few simple precautions to insure that your new home isn’t exposed to an infestation. Here are a few things you can do to make the big move without bringing bed bugs along for a ride:

Launder your clothes, bedding, and pillows.

Before you pack away the clothes in your closet, throw them in the washer and dryer. Whether they’ve been worn recently or not, clothing is a very common hiding place for bed bugs. They’re easy to treat; the high heat setting on any dryer will kill bed bugs and their eggs in a short cycle. Do the same for your beds’ sheets, covers, pillowcases, and pillows. Just make sure to check the labels on each item so nothing gets damaged.

Use a portable bed bug heater.

Since your shoes and books won’t make it out of the dryer in the best shape, you’ll need another treatment method for them. Portable bed bug heaters, like the new ZappBug Oven, are perfect for heat-treating your belongings. A ZappBug can safely heat up your shoes, books, luggage, chairs, rugs, papers, bedding and more. It can be set up in minutes, and starts heating with a push of a button; within six hours, any bed bugs or eggs inside will be toast.

Use new packing material and boxes.

Asking neighbors, family members, and local stores for their empty boxes has always been a smart way to move on a budget. However, this does carry a risk of inviting bed bugs to join you on the ride to your new home. To avoid this, consider purchasing new, sealed boxes and packing materials. You can find everything you need at your local post office, office supply store, or business shipping center. Don’t open the packages until you’re ready to start packing, to prevent bed bugs from hiding in them.

Don’t buy used furniture.

In the same vein of avoiding used boxes and packing peanuts, you should definitely steer clear of used furniture. Couches and mattresses on the street are one of the most common ways that bed bug infestations spread. The previous owners may or may not have known that they even had bed bugs, but either way it’s simply not worth the risk. If you do come across a pre-owned sofa or loveseat that you can’t resist, treat it with a vacuum and steamer as soon as you bring it home – when done properly, this will kill any bed bugs or eggs hiding inside the upholstery.

Do you have any advice for staying bed bug-free on the move? Don’t keep it to yourself; throw us a tip in the comments or on our Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ page.

Bedbugs: How to Avoid Bringing Them Home from Your Vacation

Make sure these blood-sucking stowaways stay out of your luggage

You’ve heard the saying: “Don’t let the bedbugs bite!” These days, with bedbug infestations rampant even in the nicer hotels, that’s easier said than done.

Bedbugs suck blood by night, leaving itchy, red welts behind on your skin and hiding in hard-to-see lairs by day. The flat, six-legged pests just about vanished in the 1940s and 50s with the use of heavy-duty insecticides like DDT, University of Kentucky bug experts report. ButCimex lectularius is roaring back across America, showing up in homes, apartments and hotels.

Want to enjoy your vacation bite-free and take home only the souvenirs you want in your luggage? Follow these tips when you travel.

Pack for protection. Bring a large plastic trash bag or two and store your suitcase in it to keep bedbugs out. Some experts even recommend bringing sealable plastic bags or containers to hold your clothing if you plan to store it in bureau drawers, according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. Also pack a small flashlight, which you’ll need for bedbug inspection. And print out the EPA’s handy, wallet-size bedbug ID card to help you recognize the critters.

Inspect your room.Don’t unpack immediately. Leave all of your luggage and outerwear in the bathroom (the tub’s the least likely place for bedbugs). Use the flashlight you packed to help you spot signs of bedbugs in their favorite, poorly lit hiding places. Here’s where to look:

  • Pull back the bedding, including the mattress cover. Examine the seams, folds and crevices of the mattress and box spring for bugs, tiny and nearly translucent nymphs (baby bugs) and blackish-red excrement, University of Kentucky insect experts suggest.
  • Remove all the pillowcases and check the pillows, especially the seams.
  • Look behind and under the headboard. The headboard may be attached to a hanger on the wall. You can remove it by lifting it up.

Check the nightstand, behind framed pictures and the undersides of upholstered chairs and sofas. Look over the bureau and luggage rack, too. “Bedbugs maybe found on the luggage rack if they have come in on other travelers’ luggage,” notes the University of Minnesota in a release about bedbugs.

If you find any signs of bedbugs, call the front desk to alert them and ask to be moved to a room far from your current one, advise the University of Minnesota experts.

Store your belongings safely.Once you’re satisfied your room is bedbug-free, cut your risk for bringing home a stray by keeping your suitcase on the luggage rack and as far from the bed as possible. Don’t leave clothes, purses, computers or computer bags on upholstered furniture. Keep all bags closed when not in use. “Hyper-vigilant travelers may further opt to keep belongings in sealed plastic pouches and their suitcase in a zippered tote…each traveler must decide how cautious they wish to be,” note University of Kentucky entomologists.

Look before you repack.Before you pack your belongings to leave, double-check your bags and clothes for signs of bedbugs.

Kill ’em off at home.Bedbugs die at temperatures over 120 degrees F, so unpack dirty clothing directly into your washing machine, the Environmental Protection Agency suggests.Then be sure to put them in the dryer. “A loosely filled dryer set on “high” is capable of killing all bedbug life-stages and their eggs in 30 minutes. A dryer with a removable shelf is excellent for killing bedbugs on items that cannot be tumbled, like leather shoes [and] handbags,” notes Virginia Tech bug expert Dini M. Miller, PhD, in a Virginia Extension Service article.

Store your suitcases away from living areas. The basement and garage are good spots. If you think your bag has bugs, put it into a plastic bag and leave it in a hot car outdoors on a sunny day, Miller suggests in a publication from the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Or, if you travel a lot, consider springing for a portable heating device designed to heat-treat luggage.

Sari Harrar is an award-winning health, medicine and science journalist whose work appears in Dr. Oz The Good Life magazine, Good Housekeeping, O–Oprah Magazine, Organic Gardening and other publications.

5 Tips to Avoid Bringing Home Bed Bugs From Your Hotel Stay

For the frequent hotel guest, the bed-bug scenario has taken on nightmare proportions: Tiny, roach-looking parasites lying in wait, biting you sleepless and welted and then, as if that weren’t enough, crawling en masse into your bag to infest your very home with some of the most notoriously difficult-to-eradicate pests you could find, were you to look.

The whole thing is a little surreal. Many of us only realized that bed bugs weren’t fictional in the last decade or so, when the incidence increased and these parasites made the news. Practically overnight, "Don’t let the bed bugs bite" went from harmless (if strange) goodnight rhyme to an actual warning.

So, it’s real, and it ain’t pretty. But you have tools at your disposal that can reduce your bed-bug risk. They’ll add some time to your travel process, but they may just end up saving you from the time-consuming, anxiety-triggering, financially draining horror of bringing them home with you from your trip.

The anti-bed-bug strategy starts there, at home, before the hotel is in view. It begins with the luggage you’ll be taking on your trip .

How to Prevent Bed Bugs from Getting into Your Home

You might recall going to bed as a child and hearing a parent call into your bedroom, “Goodnight. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bed bugs bite!” It’s a rhyme traced through many origin theories but one gross reality.

Aptly named, bed bugs are found in warm, semi-dark areas but most commonly in mattresses and bedding. Nearly invisible to the naked eye, these pests can thrive just about anywhere there’s a frequent turnover of occupants, mainly college dormitories, hotel rooms and even in a home.

While checking for bed bugs might not be part of your nightly routine today, in 2010 there was such a resurgence of bed bugs that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a guide dedicated to protecting your home from bed bug infestations .

While this article might make your skin crawl, it’s better than your bed crawling with bugs. We’ll go over how to identify, remove and prevent bed bugs from infesting your home so you can sleep tight knowing nothing will bite.

How Do You Identify a Bed Bug?

Bed bugs can be tricky to identify. They’re small and sneaky, meaning it might make it hard to catch an infestation before it becomes an actual problem. If you do happen to get a good look at one, here’s what you should look for :

  • Size: 1/4 of an inch long (about the size of an apple seed)
  • Shape: Long, oval and flat
  • Color: Brown – reddish-brown
  • Other features: Antenna and four legs

All the above characteristics are consistent throughout most bed bugs but note that younger bed bugs or bed bug eggs, can have a smaller size and a translucent, milky-white color.

If you’re unable to get a good look at what you think might be a bed bug, you can also identify a bed bug by the trace it leaves behind. If you think your home may be host to uninvited guests, thoroughly clean your home and change your bedding while looking for signs of:

  • Rusty or reddish stains on bed sheets or mattresses (caused by bed bugs being crushed)
  • Dark spots (commonly bed bug feces)
  • Bed bug bites on a person or pet

Although a bite might not be the best way to identify an infestation (they’re often confused for mosquito bites or rashes) know that bed bug bites can raise welts and rashes in humans, as well as cause an intense itching sensation; however, their bite does not carry infection or disease.

What Are Bed Bugs Attracted to?

Now that you know how to identify a bed bug, learning its habits, attractions and ideal breeding conditions can help you stop an infestation from spreading in your home. When it really comes down to it, bed bugs are drawn to:

  • Frequent foot traffic
  • Access to warmth
  • Carbon dioxide

It might sound gross but where there are people, there’s blood, and where there’s blood, there could be a bed bug. That’s why areas like dormitories, hotels and homes are a prime location for bed bugs since so many people go in and out.

However, they’re called “bed” bugs are a reason – their favorite hiding spots are bed frames, mattresses, box springs and beddings, combining their need of warmth, carbon dioxide and access to blood (people).

Although they’re commonly found in the bedroom, they can wedge their way into any small hiding spot in your home, so if you think you might have a bed bug infestation, don’t stop at the bed. Check these other common areas:

  • Furniture with cushions (chairs, couches, ottomans)
  • Curtains
  • Drawers
  • Electrical outlets and appliances
  • Wallpaper
  • Ceiling or floor cracks

Bed bugs can live anywhere their host can live, so this is by no means a comprehensive list. They are known to bite both humans and pets and are mostly active at night. They can also live between six months to a year, so don’t wait to act if you see signs of an early infestation.

What Causes You to Get Bed Bugs?

Some sources might claim that a messy or dirty home can cause you to get bed bugs when in reality, even the cleanest home can collect a campground of bugs. The real problem comes from previously infested furniture or people .

For example, you might have heard of hotel guests who insist on switching rooms because they found bed bugs or evidence of one. This is most likely because they know bed begs can attach themselves to clothing or luggage and travel back home with you, becoming a souvenir you don’t recall buying from your last vacation.

Unfortunately for bargain shoppers or antique collectors, they can also be found in secondhand furniture. Not to mention, people can carry bed bugs in their clothing and shoes, so there’s really no limit to how bed bugs could enter your home.

So, as you can see, the real cause of bed bugs can’t be blamed on a messy home; the real cause of bed bugs is infested furniture, bedding, luggage, boxes, clothing – really, anything that provides a source of warmth and access to people.

Obviously, while you can avoid staying in hotel rooms and buying secondhand furniture that could possibly be infested with bed bugs, you really can’t avoid people (or at least, we hope you won’t after reading this article!) The most important thing is to know how to prevent and get rid of bed bugs. We’ll talk about that next.

How Do You Prevent Bed Bugs from Getting into Your Home?

Since the number one cause of bed bug infestations in your home is previously infected furniture and people, here are a few precautions you can take to prevent bed bugs from getting into your home.

Inspect Secondhand Furniture Before Buying

Buying secondhand furniture is a great way to save money when you’re looking to furnish your home on the cheap , but it can also pose a risk of bed bugs if not examined closely.

If you go thrift shopping on the regular, make it a habit of doing a quick inspection of the furniture you’re thinking of purchasing. For furniture, check along the seams of the upholstery for any sign of bed bugs or bed bug residue. As a rule of thumb, never purchase a secondhand mattress.

Even if it looks clean enough to bring home after purchase, give the furniture a good cleaning before placing it in your home. Store it in your garage or shed, vacuuming any furniture with fabric and upholstery and thoroughly cleaning with hot, soapy water if otherwise, careful to check any crevasses like drawers or storage places.

Some sources might claim that a messy or dirty home can cause you to get bed bugs when in reality, even the cleanest home can collect a campground of bugs. The real problem comes from previously infested furniture or people .

Regularly Inspect Your Bedding for Signs of Bed Bugs

This doesn’t have to be a task you do on a nightly basis, rather, whenever you wash your bedding take this time to inspect the condition of your bed for signs of bed bugs or bed bug residue.

If you see signs of bed bugs, remove your bedding from your bed and place it in the washer on the highest heat and cycle setting your bedding will allow. The heat and water combined will kill any bed bugs that might be hiding in your bedding. For good measure, consider also washing any curtains, rugs, throw blankets and pillows that might have also been exposed in your bedroom.

As for your mattress and box spring, take them outside and using a scrub brush get into the seams and other affected areas of the mattress, brushing any bugs or eggs out. Then, take a vacuum and thoroughly clean the entire surface of both the mattress and box spring. After you’ve vacuumed your mattress, vacuum your bedroom, emptying the contents of the vacuum into a plastic bag and placing it in a garbage can outdoors.

Finally, enclose your mattress and box springs in a tight-fitting plastic covering, leaving both outside overnight. The plastic will keep any air from entering the mattress, suffocating any remaining bed bugs or eggs.

At the end of the day, you might feel more comfortable throwing away your affected mattress and box spring. If you’re worried about the chance of returning bed bugs, it’s worth the money to buy a new mattress set.

When Traveling, Always Check the Room for Bed Bugs

When traveling, check your hotel room for bed bugs before you unpack, focusing on the bedding, upholstered furniture and curtains. If you see signs of bed bugs, ask the front desk or host for another room, notifying them that you found bed bugs in your current room.

Don’t bring your luggage into the room until the coast is clear of bed bugs. Bed bugs can attach themselves to your luggage and can live up to a week, making it possible for them to find their way back into your home.

If you think your clothing may be infected, separate the infected clothes from the rest of your luggage in a sealed plastic bag. When you return home, place the infected clothes in your washing machine on the highest heat setting your clothing will allow.

Inspect your luggage outside before bringing it back into your home. Go the extra mile by vacuuming and hand washing the bag with hot, soapy water. Leave outside to dry and inspect one final time before bringing it in.

What Keeps Bed Bugs Away?

According to some sources , there are a few scents that are rumored to repel bed bugs. All-natural products, like essential oils , are said to have an effect on bed bugs, but may not kill them off completely. If you’re dealing with a heavy infestation, it’s a better idea to call an exterminator with professional heat and chemicals.

However, if you’re just looking for a preventative method that might repel bed bugs from your home, here are a few essential oils that may do the trick:

  • Tea tree oil
  • Lavender
  • Thyme
  • Lemongrass
  • Peppermint

Use ten drops of any of the previously listed essential oils, dilute with water and place in a spray bottle, spraying around the affected areas of your home like your bed sheets, curtains, luggage and other areas where you might suspect bed bugs.

If you’re still noticing signs of bed bugs in your home, contact your local exterminator to schedule a cleaning of your home. Based on the level of infestation in your home, you might not be able to stay in your home during or after the treatment, so make sure you make arrangements to stay at a friend or family’s home during this time.

While you might not ever be able to completely prevent bed bugs from getting into your home, knowing how to properly identify, remove or call a professional to remove the bed bugs will help keep your household safe from infestations.

Have you experienced bed bugs in your home? How did you handle the infestation? Share your story in the comments below.

How to Avoid Bringing Bed Bugs Home from Work

More recently, bed bugs began leaving the comfortable sanctuary of American bedrooms and showing up at schools, libraries, hospitals and office. This summer, the first reports of bed bugs in retail stores and a slew of workplace infestations caused panicked Americans to see bed bugs lurking around every corner. It was like turning the clock back to our great-grandparents’ day when bed bugs were an everyday fact of life. Find out what you can do if your office is infested so you don’t bring bed bugs home to your sanctuary.

When bed bugs started creeping back into America, stowaways in the luggage of international travelers, hotels took the first hit. Soon bed bugs started cropping up in houses and apartments, hitchhiking their way in on the clothing and in the suitcases of business travelers and vacationers. Until this summer, however, bed bugs were rarely heard of in U.S. retail stores or commercial office buildings.

More recently, bed bugs began leaving the comfortable sanctuary of American bedrooms and showing up at schools, libraries, hospitals and other high traffic areas. This summer, the first reports of bed bugs in retail stores and a slew of workplace infestations caused panicked Americans to see bed bugs lurking around every corner. It was like turning the clock back to our great-grandparents’ day when bed bugs were an everyday fact of life.

Bed bugs typically inhabit bedrooms, preferring to hide close to their preferred food source – the blood of sleeping humans. Entomologists say the increasing incidence of bed bugs in the workplace, far from their normal feeding environment, indicates the exponential growth of these blood-sucking parasites. In a July 2010 survey of pest control firms conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) and the University of Kentucky, 95% of the pest control professionals surveyed had encountered bed bugs, and 1 in 5 (20%) reported treating infestations in commercial buildings. In 2007 commercial infestations accounted for less than 1% of U.S. bed bug infestations. Today, 40% of bed bug exterminations are performed in commercial settings.

University of Kentucky entomologist and national bed bug expert Michael Potter has called bed bugs the most serious insect threat of the 21the century and the most difficult to control. Slightly smaller than an apple seed, these nocturnal, blood-sucking parasites are adept at hiding in minute crevices, easily transported to new locations and able to survive for a year without feeding. Incredibly prolific, a single pair of bed bugs can produce 300 offspring and 1,000 eggs in three months. Hatching in about a week, larvae begin reproducing within a month. In just a few months, a single pair of bed bugs can spawn an infestation numbering in the hundreds of thousands.

Not attracted by dirt or filth, bed bugs target human blood, on which they must feed before molting or reproducing. Adept hitchhikers, these blood-sucking parasites are spread by their victims, riding into office buildings with co-workers, visitors, venders, maintenance staff and deliverymen – An equal opportunity pest, in the past year bed bug infestations have been found in former President Bill Clinton’s Harlem office, the Sirius XM Radio studio of shock jock Howard Stern, U.N. headquarters, the Ronald Reagan building in Washington D.C., IRS offices in Philadelphia and Kentucky, two Abercrombie & Fitch Hollister stores, Victoria’s Secret, the Metropolitan Opera House, Lincoln Center, AMC Times Square movie theater, the Empire State Building, and the corporate offices of Time Warner, Google, CNN, The Wall Street Journal and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offices in Rockville, Maryland, to name a few.

When bed bugs invade an office, employees often panic, pointing fingers at each other and ostracizing coworkers believed to have introduced the pests. However, bed bugs are so prevalent that more than one worker may have brought them into the workplace or they may have migrated from another office in the building through vents, wall voids or electrical conduits. Barely 1/4 inch long and paper thin when not feeding, bed bugs can slip between the teeth of a backpack zipper; crawl into briefcases and purses, or ride into an office hidden in the seams of clothing or coats. A traveling coworker may carry bed bugs into the office inside his suitcase. Attracted to heat, bed bugs have even been found hiding inside the battery compartments of laptop computers, iPhones and iPods. Your home doesn’t have to be infested for you to pick up bed bugs. You can get them on a subway, bus or taxi. You can bring them home from a movie theater or library. If you brush against someone who is carrying bed bugs or sit in a seat recently vacated by a bed bug victim, there’s an excellent chance some of these pests will jump ship and go to work or home with you.

Employers must be proactive in dealing with bed bugs. Business owners should develop a comprehensive bed bug action plan to ensure that they and their employees are prepared should bed bugs come calling. An employer’s action plan should:

1. Educate employees so they can recognize bed bugs, signs of infestation and bite symptoms and encourage vigilance.

2. Update employee handbooks and set forth bed bug avoidance techniques and reporting procedures.

3. Emphasize the importance of early detection. Encourage employees to immediately advise management of bed bug activity in the workplace or at home.

4. Be open and sympathetic in communications with employees.

5. Should an employee carry bed bugs home, offer support. Consider defraying the cost of home inspection and treatment for employees, allow employees to use vacation days and the Family and Medical Leave Act to cope with home infestations.

6. Arrange immediate treatment with a licensed pest control professional.

7. Launch a containment plan to prevent cross-contamination between work and home.

If your office is invaded by bed bugs, employees can also take proactive steps to prevent bed bugs from hitchhiking home with them:

1. Educate yourself and your family so you know what bed bugs and their bites look like, where to look for them and signs of infestations.

2. Adopt a minimalist lifestyle. Get rid of clutter where bed bugs can hide. Keep everything off the floor.

3. Inspect your office chair and desk for signs of bed bugs daily. Choose metal over wood office furniture.

4. Leave briefcases and laptops at work. Use a hard-sized, not fabric, briefcase. Minimize the number of items you carry between work and home and transport them in sealed plastic bags.

5. Zip work items into a bed bug-proof luggage liner to minimize cross-contamination.

6. When you arrive home after work, leave your shoes in the garage. Inspect each item carefully before taking it into your home.

7. Change clothes as soon as you get home. Place work clothes in sealed plastic bags until they can be laundered.

8. At home, cover mattresses and box springs with bed bug-proof mattress encasements to prevent bed bugs from infesting your bedding.

9. If your office is the site of an active infestation, regularly inspect sheets and mattresses for bed bug signs.

10. If you suspect a bed bug infestation at home, immediately call a licensed pest control professional and arrange treatment. Look for a an established pest control firm that has been in business for many years, is a member of the National Pest Management Association (NPMA), has a good Better Business Bureau rating and offers a 90-day guarantee.

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