The worry over bed bugs that started in a Parma elementary school this week isn’t all that unusual.
The Cuyahoga County Board of Health gets at least one call per month from a school about bed bugs, and has been getting that frequency of calls for the last half dozen years.
But according to Tom Barsa at CCBH, an infestation inside a school or office building is unlikely.
“Someone might bring in a bedbug on their backpack or clothing, you might see one or two and that’s it. And extermination might get rid of those bed bugs, but it’s only a matter of time before they’re reintroduced by someone else. But there shouldn’t be an infestation because there are no sleeping areas in the school,” he explained.
And that’s when bed bugs like to feast – when you’re sleeping.
Infestations are nearly always found where someone sleeps every night. The reddish-brown, apple seed-sized bugs can hide in the tiniest folds of your mattress and bedding, or inside the seams of the headboard, baseboard or even electric sockets.
They dine on your blood, usually leaving several bites in a row. And they excrete a fluid that shows up as dark dots and streaks.
Catching them as early as possible is your best defense against infestation, and that means learning about them and adjusting your behavior accordingly.
“This is something that’s here, it’s here to stay. So it’s something everybody should be educated on now. Know what to look for, because the easiest way to get rid of a bedbug infestation is to catch it early,” said Barsa.
Initial treatment and follow-up can take several weeks or longer depending on the size of the problem.
Treatment usually involves chemicals. But the closest thing to a “silver bullet” for bed bugs is heat – using special equipment to raise the temperature of a room to about 120 degrees – which kills the bugs and their eggs.
Bed bugs cannot jump or fly, they crawl. But they can hitchhike in luggage and on clothing. The most likely way to introduce bed bugs in your home is from travel or buying second hand furniture or bedding.
To learn more about bed bugs, click here to visit the Cuyahoga County Board of Health website.