Last Modified: Friday, July 26, 2013 2:47 PM
I’ve heard that the bed bug infestation has moved down south and that there are several local inns and hotels that are infested. Is that true?
What can be done to eliminate bed bugs, and will they come back? What kind of threat do they pose to people who sleep in these rooms?
State health officials don’t maintain a list of hotels and motels that have had bed bug infestations, said Christina Stephens, a state Department of Health and Hospitals spokeswoman.
Lodging patrons who find bed bugs in their rooms should call the Office of Public Health, which will send an inspector to evaluate the rooms, she said.
DHH requires hotel operators to remove infested rooms from availability and have them treated professionally, and it offers managers and staff members advice on how to spot infestations and eradicate the pests, Stephens said.
DHH has held eight regional outreach meetings with lodging owners and operators and has worked with the Louisiana Hotel and Lodging Association to pass along information on bed bugs, she said.
Signs of infestation include small, itchy red bites, clumped or lined up on exposed skin; dead bugs; cast-off bug skins, left after feeding; fecal droppings, tiny black clumps; and blood spots on pillows and sheets. DHH recommends hiring a professional exterminator to eliminate infestations.
“Bed bugs do not carry diseases, so the risk associated with people being bit by a bed bug are typically just itchiness or mild discomfort and reddish discolorations associated with the bites,” Stephens wrote in an email.
“These are typically treated with over-the-counter antihistamines and topical creams.”
How to keep bed bugs out of your home, as listed in a DHH pamphlet:
Never bring bed frames, mattresses, box springs or upholstered furniture found on the street into your home.
Check all used or rented furniture for bed bugs.
When traveling, inspect the bed and furniture. Keep suitcases off the floor and bed, and inspect them before you leave.
If you suspect you have been around bed bugs, immediately wash and dry the clothing on hot setting or store in a sealed plastic bag until you can.
Seal cracks and crevices with caulk, even if you don’t have bed bugs. This will help prevent bed bugs and other pests from coming in.
From the introduction of “The Prevention and Control of Bed Bugs,” a 12-page publication available on DHH’s website:
Bed bugs are thought to have evolved from cave-dwelling insects in the Middle East that fed on bats and eventually started feeding on humans instead. Human bed bugs were noted in Greek and Latin literature long before the Common Era and the insects rapidly spread throughout Europe with human populations.
Cimex lectularius is the species that is now infesting homes. Bed bugs live where people live because they only feed on sleeping humans. Thus, they are found primarily in homes, apartments, hotels, shelters and dormitories.
The presence of bed bugs in human dwellings is not caused by a lack of cleanliness. They are an equal opportunity pest that only requires a warm, sleeping body and a place to hide nearby. Bed bugs have been found in both five-star hotels and homeless shelters.
The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email email@example.com