A lot of people will be traveling during the holidays and that can lead to an encounter with pests that like to join you. Polk County Health Department spokesperson Sarah Boese says bed bugs are not something you want to be a part of your holiday memories.
“Bed bugs continue to be a problem throughout communities across the country and the world, and we want to remind people know as they’re traveling to be extra diligent to avoid bringing bed bugs home with them,” Boese says, “because bed bugs really are excellent hitchhikers. They like to stow away in suitcases or on clothing and then come home, where they can develop into an infestation.”
Contrary to popular belief, you aren’t necessarily safe just because you are staying with someone you know. She says you should be aware of bedbugs whether you are staying in another person’s home or a motel. When you enter the room you are sleeping in Boese suggests you pull the sheets up and look along the cracks of the mattress for bugs, empty skin shells or little black spots on the cracks of the mattress — and also check out the bedside table.
The best way to avoid spreading the bugs is to stay away when they are discovered. “If you see signs of a bed bug infestation in the place that you’re staying, try to make different arrangements to stay someplace else, or in a different room,” Boese says. She recommends reporting the bed bug findings to the manager of the hotel-motel and ask for a different room.
Once you get home, you should check the seams of your luggage for any bed bugs, and then wash your clothing in hot water and dry with high heat to kill any bed bugs that might’ve gotten into your clothing. Boese says bed bugs don’t pose any major danger beyond an itchy bite — and perhaps some stress.
“At this time there is no disease associated with bed bugs, but they really do cause families a lot of mental anxiety, and it can be really expensive and time consuming to treat them,” Boese says. Bed bugs made a resurgence as the pesticides that were used to get rid of them were wiped out.
Boese says they are like cockroaches and mosquitoes and will likely never go completely away, but we can help by doing things to try and control any outbreaks.