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Bed Bugs- Long Report

In: English and Literature

Submitted By bduckworth14
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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). Often public codes have a difficult time trying to isolate responsible parties. Tenants and landlords argue over who is responsible and liable for the charges to come. The high treatment costs along with the passing population makes it nearly impossible to assign accountability for the problem (Lois, & Jennings, 2010). In August 2010 The New York Times wrote an article dealing with people’s reactions to bed bugs. The article dealt with a law suit in Brooklyn where a tenant took his landlord to court, represented himself, and was lucky enough to win. The tenant received 100% rent back, for eight of the nine months his apartment was infested. Under one condition, he had to move out. Consequently, he then had trouble finding a new place to live. The tenant was then characterized as having bed bugs and landlords would not even meet with him. The article proposed the question of whether landlords were afraid of him bringing bed bugs into their facility, or taking the chance if getting sued. (Lois, & Jennings, 2010)?
What can communities do is a valid question to ask. Communities can implement a program or petition to have bills and laws passed on the issue. A well designed program will incorporate surveillance, and modification of the environment to make it less comfortable for bed bugs. For example cleaning areas where infestation may be a problem, remove clutter, and encase bedding. In order for a community program to be successful it requires active participation from residents. The programs developed will vary for each community and their specific needs (Lois, & Jennings, 2010).
In February 2011, Connecticut legislators proposed a number of bills that were directed towards regulating and controlling the spread of bed bugs. Proposed Bill No. 540 is a proposition to defend the public by creating strategies to overcome the spread of bed bugs. This bill recommends an assortment of possible procedures that could be put in place. The procedures include many requirements for both parties involved. Landlords will have obligations that require them to inform tenants of any recent infestation. Landlords will also be held responsible for handling a bed bug situation in a timely matter. The tenants must be calm, and willing to cooperate if an issue does arise. Other regulations in this bill are requirements for the Department of Public Health including the proper disposal of exposed furniture as well as developing a campaign to inform communities how to prevent, treat, and regulate the bed bug problem ("An epidemic of," 2010).
Another bed bug incident arose and was discussed in the February 2011edition of The Financial Times. It was reported that a recent customer on a British Airways flight had encountered bed bugs. She claims that “bugs were literally crawling all over.” A week later on another British Airway flight the same women claimed that she was covered in a skin reaction that appeared to be bed bug bites. Along with writing a letter to the British Airways telling them of her experience, she also publicized her complaints throughout the internet. She declares that her complaints were never handled by the staff at British Airways ("An epidemic of," 2010).
World travel is believed to be one of the many reasons this pest has surfaced once again. More people visit from countries where bed bugs are an issue. The pests are transferred from place to place in luggage and on clothing. Another factor for the rising problem involves bedding suppliers not taking the proper precautions when picking up infested bedding. This allows bed bugs to spread easily when they pick up and deliver. Yet another way bedbugs are easily spread is due to the lack of proper procedures. Furniture rental companies deliver bedding and furniture taken from infested homes without inspecting or treating it first ("Bedbugs- a health," 2011).
Bed bugs are still a relevant problem in today’s society. They can survive in any climate and are not race, age, or gender oriented. They are prevalent to humans only and prefer cool, dark places. The procedures needed to treat bed bugs are very complex and should be taken seriously. With the recent news of bed bugs it is important to take the proper precautions when returning from travel. I believe that in the near future we will see many more bills and regulations regarding this issue.

An epidemic of bed bugs in the news. (2010). Retrieved from

Bedbugs- a health problem returns to the us. (2011). Retrieved from

Harrison, R, & Lawrence , B. (2010). Pulling back the sheets on the bed bug controversy. Association for the health care environment, 1-5.

Hwang, S.W., Svoboda, T.J., De Jong, L.J., Kabasele, K.J., & Gogosis, E. (2005). Bedbug infestations in an urban environment. 11(4), Retrieved from

Lois, R, & Jennings, S. (2010). Bed bugs: a public health problem in need of a collaborative solution. Journal of Environmental Health, 72(8), Retrieved from

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