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Bedbug Hype: Public Health Issues and Recent News

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Bedbug Hype: Public Health Issues and Recent News

Katie Povis

Missouri Baptist University

Ancient bugs that are believed to exist in the time of cave dwellers are known as bed bugs ("Bedbugs- a health," 2011). Although many people allegedly thought bed bugs were a myth, in reality bed bugs are a serious problem that most people choose to ignore. Experts say that bed bugs resemble the body of a flea, in that it appears flat. The microscopic insects are almost impossible to see and are able to squeeze into small crevices on any object or surface. Common places for bed bugs to hide include mattresses, box springs, and picture frames as well as floor and wall moldings ("Bedbugs- a health," 2011). Humans are the perfect prey for bed bugs. Compared to other mammals, humans have less hair which is preferred by bed bugs because direct access to skin makes their feeding much easier ("Bedbugs- a health," 2011)."

It is believed by scientists that the ideal temperature for the parasites to thrive is between 60 and 70 degrees. Research at Virginia Tech shows that the lifespan of bed bugs may expand when cooler temperatures are consistent, so rather than living on their host, they feed and return to the cool, dark hiding places they favor (Harrison, & Lawrence , 2010). There are many theories as to why these insects have surfaced again. The tiny insects cause a good deal of controversy especially in court cases trying to decide who is liable ("Bedbugs- a health," 2011).

One article reported that bed bug infestation was rising in communities across the United States, affecting people from almost every ethnic and socioeconomic background. Bed bugs are active in any type of climate and are equally comfortable in rural or urban settings. Reports of infestation in schools and office buildings are not uncommon (Lois, & Jennings, 2010).

Bed bug infestations are a burden to society. The financial losses from health, lost wages, and lost productivity can cause a severe impact to the community. Although the exact dollar amount is not known, the implications can still be serious. The eradication process for bed bugs is not only timely but also costly. The price is considerably more because it requires several visits by authorized pest control operators. The costs also differ for multi-unit dwelling and single family units, with multi-unit dwelling being exponentially more expensive (Lois, & Jennings, 2010).

Bed bugs are not perceived to transfer diseases; however, they can still be a significant health problem. A variety of physical, mental, and economic health problems can occur due to bed bugs (Lois, & Jennings, 2010). It is believed by many scholars that potential allergen and respiratory affects can occur. Mental health issues are also a problem due to sleep disturbance ("Bedbugs- a health," 2011). In 2010 Stephen Brodsky, a New York City therapist was intervened by Times Magazine to answers questions about bed bugs and their victims. Brodsky has treated many people suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder, which was appealing to numerous bed bug victims. He discusses the effects bed bugs have on their victims both physically and mentally. He examines the different stages a former bedbugger goes through once their bed bugs are gone. The possibility of bed bugs returning puts a sense of fear in a patient's mind, sometimes causing paranoia, and delusionary parasitosis ("An epidemic of," 2010).

Two medical professionals did a case analysis on bed bugs. In their research they reviewed 53 previously published articles on bed bugs. Along with their own experiment they came to the following conclusions: the transfer of disease is non-existent when dealing with bed bugs, therefore the health risk is slim to none. The researchers noted that in some cases, bed bug bites can be a source of serious irritation. The professionals also conclude that the management and treatment of bed bugs is extremely difficult however they positioned bed bugs to be less of a concern to the medical field and specifically in the pest management category (Harrison, & Lawrence , 2010).

In an Atlanta training center researchers reported that the presence of bed bug bites is not a reliable early indicator of their manifestation. Nine hundred volunteers were introduced to one to three bed bugs from a lab for a feeding (Harrison, & Lawrence , 2010). An imitate reaction of mild to serious skin irritation comprised 3.7% and an additional 0.8% claimed some level of reaction with 18 days. Overall, less than 5% of the volunteers had noticeable bed bug reactions. The affected 5% had no visible correlation between each individual's age, gender and race along with their reaction to the bed bug bites. It seems that when first bitten, many hosts have no reaction. Therefore, bed bugs are undetected for a longer period of time (Harrison, & Lawrence , 2010).

Bed bugs can be a major disturbance for both patients and residents. Infested facilities can often leave a negative impression. Many business professionals believe that attention should be given to the development of prevention and treatment strategies in the bed bug area. Business professionals realize that bed bugs could be a serious deal breaker for some, and the risk is not worth your reputation (Harrison, & Lawrence, 2010).

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