Afraid of Bed Bugs? You're Not Alone

Bed bugs have been around for about as long as people have been sleeping indoors, but after the use of DDT in the 1940s and 1950s, bed bugs seemed to disappear in the United States. But due to increased international travel and changes in pesticide use, the bedbug population exploded. While most people of recent generations only learned of bed bugs from that nightmare-inducing “…don’t let the bed bugs bite” bedtime mantra, now the menace of bed bugs is a reality. No place is safe. Even 4-star hotels find themselves with infestations these days.

These nasty little critters feed on blood, piercing the skin with sharp, elongated beaks. Because symptoms don’t appear for hours or even days, bed bugs can feed for up to ten minutes at a time. The bites can leave red, burning, itchy bumps that can sometimes become infected. In some people, the bites can turn into more dramatic blister-like eruptions.

People who notice these bites usually do two things: 1) see a doctor to treat the wheals; and 2) call an exterminator to get rid of the nasty things.

People who live in nursing homes and other elder-care homes don’t have those options. According to an article in the News & Observer, inspections reveal a massive bedbug problem in homes for the elderly.

When a pest control company visited Lake Wheeler Family Care Home early last month, employees encountered an increasingly common sight in state-licensed homes for older people in Wake County: “Extreme amount of bedbugs (thousands) noted throughout entire house,” an inspection report said. “Heavy amounts of fecal matter and cast skins also noted.”

But the elderly face a more difficult problem than most of the rest of us:

“In a secure Alzheimer’s unit, sometimes the residents can report bugs,” said Gail Holden, Wake’s director of adult services. “Or they have trouble telling you what’s going on. Or if they can talk, you may be able to understand the words they are saying, but not what they mean.”

What is even more heartbreaking is that this report comes at a time when our state is threatening to cut funding to services for the elderly. No one should have to put up with bloodsuckers.

To read the full article in the News & Observer, click here:  Bed Bugs Plague Elder Homes

To read more information about bed bugs from the Department of Entomology at North Carolina State University (including information about how to spot and eradicate them), click here:  Bed Bugs – Biology and Control

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