How Can Bed Bugs Transfer

What Can You Do About Bed Bugs in Your Laptop?

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What Can You Do About Bed Bugs in Your Laptop?

The worst has happened: you’ve got bed bugs. There are good methods (though expensive!) to control bed bugs in and on furniture and luggage, and you can wash clothing and bedding. But what about all your STUFF?

Toys, photos, your iPhone, and your favorite bedside lamp? Anything with small nooks and crannies can harbor a bed bug, including keyboards, computers, books, and CD cases. If you bag up your books and personal keepsakes, treat for bed bugs, and then put your stuff back without any additional treatment, you can re-infest your living space. Adult bed bugs can live for over a year without feeding. That’s a really long time to keep all the random detritus of your house in bags.

The only treatment for bagged bug-infested stuff is to put no-pest strips in the bag, and leave the bags sealed for at least 2 weeks. However, dichlorvos, the main ingredient, is toxic enough that the CDC recently issued a safety advisory. Dichlorvos also smells terrible, and makes many people nauseous.

Bug Wars: A New Hope
Last week I got a press release about a new product thatmightsolve the problem of treating your potentially-contaminated stuff – including electronics. It’s called "Proof™" and derived from the neem tree (Azadirachta indica), an evergreen that produces smelly compounds that deter insect feeding. Neem oil is sold as a topical spray to kill bed bugs (trade name Cirkil™). The new procedure is called "Rag in A Bag"; you spray 40 milliliters (3 tbsp) of the neem oil solution onto a washcloth, and then toss that in a plastic bag containing the items to be fumigated. Wait a week, and the bugs are all dead.

Sounds awesome, but is it legit?
Bed bug control products are a HUGE market, and there is a lot of bogus stuff for sale that won’t kill anything but your wallet. Two years ago, several bed bug spray manufacturers were cited by the Federal Trade Commission for making fraudulent claims about the effectiveness of their herbal products. Bed Bug Foggers are known to be ineffective against bed bugs, but you can still find them on store shelves everywhere.

I’m normally quite skeptical about new products claiming to control bed bugs, but the PR email I got contained the name of an entomologist I recognized – Dr. Dini Miller, author of many useful publications on bed bugs, and well-known urban entomologist. I called up Miller to get the scoop on how she tested the new protocol. Her lab has bed bugs in culture, so she was able to test bed bugs known to be highly resistant to conventional pesticides. (Disclosure: Miller did not receive salary or stipend compensation from the pesticide manufacturer, but did get reimbursed for equipment expenses.)

Miller put groups of 10 nymphs (immatures), 10 adults, and over 90 bed bug eggs in with common household items: electronics, stuffed toys, picture frames, shoes, purses, and books. When I asked how she tested the computer items, Dr. Miller said, and this is a direct quote: "We wrapped up bed bugs in pantyhose and put them in a disk drive."

How to put bed bugs in your computer, the scientific way.

Don’t worry, that’s normal. Pantyhose is a critical tool in the entomological research armamentarium. It’s cheap, it’s flexible, it’s resistant to puncture, and most insects are too big to crawl through the pores of the fabric. It’s perfect for making cages to hold small bugs.

The results of Miller’s tests were spectacular; 100% mortality for eggs, nymphs, and adults after 7 days in bags containing shoes, purses, electronics, toys, and paperback books. The only exception to that perfect control record was hard-cover books. Bindings of books apparently provided a good enough hiding space that only 70% of bed bug adults were killed after one week. That’s still pretty good, and additional tests are being done to see if leaving hard-cover books in the bag for an additional week can finish off the stragglers.

This is how you contain bed bugs on a hard cover book: Pantyhose. Infinitely useful for science.

What’s the catch?Proof™ smells. It smells a LOT, and a little strange. It was described as "cherry corn tortillas" by Dr. Miller. I suspect that those sensitive to strong smells might find the scent overpowering; several one-star reviews at Amazon mention the "florid" smell. The manufacturer clearly knows the smell could be an issue, and has branded the product with the tag line: "Its strong botanical smell lets you know it’s working."

I spoke to two pest control operators that routinely work with bed bugs, neither of which were willing to speak on the record about this product. Both of them did have fairly strong opinions about it, though: this stuff stinks. The same chemical is available as a topical spray for bed bugs, and "the stench of fruity corn chips" is a deal-breaker for some clients. The smell does linger for a while, so the recommendation of one exterminator was to only bag and treat items that you are sure actually have bed bugs on them.

There also is very little information on justhowProof™ is killing the bugs. The compound itself is mostly harmless to humans on skin contact and inhalation, and doesn’t have a high vapor pressure. All known mechanisms for neem to kill insects to date are topical (i.e, you have to get it on the insect, or they come in contact with it.) Are the bed bugs just perfumed to death? Do they O.D. on the smell of raspberry Fritos®? That information is not available.

Overall, I am cautiously optimistic. This seems like a promising, if highly odiferous, new development in the battle against bed bugs. Proof™ is now on sale to the public, and hopefully additional studies will refine control techniques and the mechanisms of control further.

Do Bed Bugs Travel on People?

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Believe it or not, bed bugs can travel via human hosts. (Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images )

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They’re creepy, they’re crawly and they’re often quite difficult to spot. Bed bugs – blood-sucking, tiny parasites that dine on human and animal hosts – have become a concern worldwide due to their stealthy ways of getting around. Unfortunately, the little critters are more mobile than we would like to think.

Bed Bug Bites and Basics

Bed bugs – named for one of their favorite hangouts – tend to be found in linens, between cracks in mattresses and even in cracks and crevices in the floor. They leech off their human or animal hosts, with bed bug bites leaving scabby trails of rashes and marks across the skin. Because they are mostly active at night, it can take awhile for a person to notice that his home or hotel room has bed bugs.

How Bed Bugs Spread

Not everyone is aware that bed bugs can be spread via humans: if a person goes to a hotel room that has bed bugs, and the bed bugs hide out on the person or on the person’s luggage, the bed bugs can be spread to a new location. Because of this, no house is safe from a bed bug infestation. Bed bugs can spread from house to house, living in even the cleanest conditions; bed bugs are not a sign that a person’s home is dirty or unkempt.

Looking for Bed Bug Evidence

If you suspect that your home has been hit by bed bugs, look for the following telltale signs: small scabs or rashes in a line-like pattern on your skin, small fecal droppings or small blood smears on your sheets. The bed-bug bites will most likely be across your face, arms, or legs – the areas that are not covered by your pajamas as you sleep. Remember, though, that not all people will develop a rash if being bitten. You’ll also want to check for bugs in your mattress and in your luggage by closely inspecting them.

Eradicating Bed Bugs for Good

Though a variety of sprays and ointments are out there marketed as beg-bug killers, the truth is that many of these products do not work. You can attempt to rid yourself of these pests by vacuuming every inch of your apartment and by putting your linens in a dryer set on the highest setting. While it’s rare to find bed bugs on the clothes you’re wearing – they tend to fall off once you start moving – you should still wash any potentially contaminated clothing as well. A severe infestation will require the attention of a licensed exterminator; it can often take more than one visit from the exterminator to ensure that the bed bugs are really gone.

Disclosure

Leaf Group is a USA TODAY content partner providing general travel information. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.

Bed Bugs FAQs

What are bed bugs?

Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown in color, wingless, range from 1mm to 7mm (roughly the size of Lincoln’s head on a penny), and can live several months without a blood meal.

Where are bed bugs found?

Bed bugs are found across the globe from North and South America, to Africa, Asia and Europe. Although the presence of bed bugs has traditionally been seen as a problem in developing countries, it has recently been spreading rapidly in parts of the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other parts of Europe. Bed bugs have been found in five-star hotels and resorts and their presence is not determined by the cleanliness of the living conditions where they are found.

Bed bug infestations usually occur around or near the areas where people sleep. These areas include apartments, shelters, rooming houses, hotels, cruise ships, buses, trains, and dorm rooms. They hide during the day in places such as seams of mattresses, box springs, bed frames, headboards, dresser tables, inside cracks or crevices, behind wallpaper, or any other clutter or objects around a bed. Bed bugs have been shown to be able to travel over 100 feet in a night but tend to live within 8 feet of where people sleep.

Do bed bugs spread disease?

Bed bugs are not known to spread disease. Bed bugs can be an annoyance because their presence may cause itching and loss of sleep. Sometimes the itching can lead to excessive scratching that can sometimes increase the chance of a secondary skin infection.

What health risks do bed bugs pose?

A bed bug bite affects each person differently. Bite responses can range from an absence of any physical signs of the bite, to a small bite mark, to a serious allergic reaction. Bed bugs are not considered to be dangerous; however, an allergic reaction to several bites may need medical attention.

What are the signs and symptoms of a bed bug infestation?

One of the easiest ways to identify a bed bug infestation is by the tell-tale bite marks on the face, neck, arms, hands, or any other body parts while sleeping. However, these bite marks may take as long as 14 days to develop in some people so it is important to look for other clues when determining if bed bugs have infested an area. These signs include:

  • the bed bugs’ exoskeletons after molting,
  • bed bugs in the fold of mattresses and sheets,
  • rusty–colored blood spots due to their blood-filled fecal material that they excrete on the mattress or nearby furniture, and
  • a sweet musty odor.

How do I know if I’ve been bitten by a bed bug?

It is hard to tell if you’ve been bitten by a bed bug unless you find bed bugs or signs of infestation. When bed bugs bite, they inject an anesthetic and an anticoagulant that prevents a person from realizing they are being bitten. Most people do not realize they have been bitten until bite marks appear anywhere from one to several days after the initial bite. The bite marks are similar to that of a mosquito or a flea — a slightly swollen and red area that may itch and be irritating. The bite marks may be random or appear in a straight line. Other symptoms of bed bug bites include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems that arise from profuse scratching of the bites.

Because bed bug bites affect everyone differently, some people may have no reaction and will not develop bite marks or any other visible signs of being bitten. Other people may be allergic to the bed bugs and can react adversely to the bites. These allergic symptoms can include enlarged bite marks, painful swellings at the bite site, and, on rare occasions, anaphylaxis.

How did I get bed bugs?

Bed bugs are experts at hiding. Their slim flat bodies allow them to fit into the smallest of spaces and stay there for long periods of time, even without a blood meal. Bed bugs are usually transported from place to place as people travel. The bed bugs travel in the seams and folds of luggage, overnight bags, folded clothes, bedding, furniture, and anywhere else where they can hide. Most people do not realize they are transporting stow-away bed bugs as they travel from location to location, infecting areas as they travel.

Who is at risk for getting bed bugs?

Everyone is at risk for getting bed bugs when visiting an infected area. However, anyone who travels frequently and shares living and sleeping quarters where other people have previously slept has a higher risk of being bitten and or spreading a bed bug infestation.

How are bed bugs treated and prevented?

Bed bug bites usually do not pose a serious medical threat. The best way to treat a bite is to avoid scratching the area and apply antiseptic creams or lotions and take an antihistamine. Bed bug infestations are commonly treated by insecticide spraying. If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that is experienced with treating bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.

This information is not meant to be used for self-diagnosis or as a substitute for consultation with a health care provider. If you have any questions about the parasites described above or think that you may have a parasitic infection, consult a health care provider.

How do Bed Bugs Spread and How to Prevent it

People often wonder where bed bugs live, how they spread and the ways to prevent this. So, in this guide, we will mainly study how bed bugs spread from place to place and the important steps one can take to prevent this from happening.

Where are they commonly found?

Bed bugs are found throughout the world. The most common type of bed bug, the Cimex Lectularius, lives in cooler regions, and one can find it in many parts of North America, Europe as well as some parts of Asia. Similarly, the tropical bed bug (the Cimex Hemipterus) is found in tropical or warmer regions like Africa, Asia, South America and certain parts of North America.

How do bed bugs spread?

The answer to this question is very simple: bed bugs simply hitchhike their way into our homes through our luggage, on buses, trains and even airplanes. In most of the infestations, homeowners have either traveled to or stayed in infested motels or rental properties. Bed bugs also spread through discarded infested furniture, mattresses, shoes, books and other items that are innocently picked up by people.

The worst part is that bed bugs are difficult to spot. They hide in cracks and crevices in furniture, wall sockets and electrical outlets etc. The larvae and eggs of bed bugs measure less than 1/25” making it difficult to get rid of them easily.

How to prevent bed bugs from spreading?

People dealing with a bed bug infestation must feel a moral obligation in preventing bed bugs from spreading. It is often embarrassing to admit to an infestation in the first place, since most people feel that it is a sign of unhygienic conditions. While this is true to some extent; it is important to note that no matter how clean and spotless a home or a hotel is, bed bugs can still reside in it. And once they come into our homes, it is difficult to get rid of them.

However, there are ways of preventing the spreading of bed bugs.

  • When travelling, carry few trash/ plastic bags to store items in. Seal your shoes, clothing and other necessities in these bags to protect them from bed bugs.
  • Never place your luggage near furniture, walls and beds in motels and hotels as these are the areas that are frequented by the bugs. The best place to store your luggage and shoes in motels is the bathroom or your car, as bed bugs normally prefer inhabiting areas closer to the sleeping hosts.
  • If you see signs of bed bug activity on your hotel beds (such as rust colored fecal stains, discarded exoskeletons and other bed bug debris) do notify the hotel management staff. They might already be aware of the problem and even using an integrated pest management system. Most hotels will also offer to give you another room or it is best to change the hotel if possible.
  • If you have bed bugs in your home, inform potential guests beforehand so as to prevent bed bugs from spreading to their homes.

What to do if you see bed bug signs where you are staying?

  • The best thing to do is notify the owner or manager. Do not spray any pesticide as other people/guests (or house pets) could be allergic to these. Moreover, spraying ineffective pesticides can also be detrimental to the efforts of bed bug control programs that are already in place.
  • Seal all your items in trash bags or plastic bags and if possible, place your luggage in these bags. Store the luggage away from the infested room, preferably in the car or in the bathroom.
  • Inspect yourself and your clothes that you are wearing currently to see if bed bugs have crawled on them. Do not apply any insecticide on your person; rather brush or dust the clothing.
  • Once you are home, brush your clothes again. Open and unpack your luggage outdoors to contain the infestation.
  • Launder all clothing in hot water and on the highest heat setting to kill bed bugs, eggs and larvae. Keep all clothing sealed until it is ready to be washed. Do not leave infested items near beds, on the floor or near clean clothes.
  • Place the luggage (backpacks and duffel bags) in dryers for 30 minutes.
  • Never leave infested items that you wish to discard near trash cans as unsuspecting people might pick them up leading to the spread of bed bugs.

Call professional bed bug exterminators rather than dealing with large infestation on your own. This is the most important step for preventing the spread of bed bugs.

How to Keep From Getting Bedbugs When Someone You Know Has Them

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Bed bugs are small blood-sucking insects that infest homes and hotels. They most commonly live in bed mattresses, bedding and box springs, and they crawl out to feed while the victim sleeps. Bed bugs and their eggs can also be transferred onto clothing, furniture, carpeting, suitcases and purses. When a friend or family member’s home or hotel room is infested with bed bugs, you must avoid direct contact with their bed, home, clothing, car and other belongings.

Do not allow an infested person, his pets or his belongings in your home. The bed bugs may be carried into your home on the person’s clothing, belongings or pet.

Avoid visiting a home or hotel room if a bed bug infestation has been reported at that location. Bed bugs and their eggs aren’t just found in bed. They can be transferred to other areas of the home or hotel, and they can live in furniture and carpeting.

Don’t touch, wear or borrow clothing, purses, suitcases or other belongings owned by an individual with a bed bug infestation. The eggs and bed bugs can be carried on these items and transferred to others.

Keep your coat and purse at your desk instead of storing them in the office coat closet. Bed bugs may travel from one coat to another.

Label the office chairs in your office and ask employees to use the same chair at all times. Write each employee’s name on an adhesive label and stick it onto the chair back. Bed bugs and their eggs can rub off onto the chair, and they may infest the next person who sits there.

Find alternate transportation if you carpool with a person who has a bed bug infestation. The eggs and bed bugs may be transferred onto the car upholstery. Find another ride until the infestation has been resolved.

Remove clothing immediately after entering your home and store the clothing items in a plastic trash bag if you have direct contact with a person or location that’s infested with bed bugs. Keep the bag sealed for six weeks. The bed bugs will be unable to feed, and it will break the life cycle.

Shower immediately if you’re exposed to bed bugs.

Do not freeze your belongings in an attempt to kill bed bugs and their eggs. Bed bugs are tolerant of very cold temperatures. It requires two weeks of sustained freezing temperatures to kill bed bugs and their eggs. Seek professional help if your home is infested with bed bugs. It will be extremely difficult to eliminate the infestation without assistance.

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