I recently had a patient who is a professional truck driver tell me that a few trucks in his fleet had bed bugs. As a result, the trucking company had to get all of its trucks professionally cleaned and exterminated.
Bed bugs are a small parasitic insect that feeds on the blood of warm-blooded animals such as humans.
The name bed bug was derived from the fact they like to live in areas where people sleep. Generally, bed bugs are reddish brown, oval and flat, and approximately the size of an apple seed. For the most part, bed bugs are nocturnal. During the day, they will hide in the cracks and crevices of beds, headboards and bed frames.
They can also be found under peeling paint, loose wallpaper, and under carpeting near baseboards
Humans have known about bed bugs for hundreds of years. Fortunately, they have been eradicated from most developed countries since the 1940s. However, there has been an increase in their prevalence since the early 1990s. The reason for this increase is not completely understood, however it is believed to be related to increased international travel, changes in pest control practices, and insecticide resistance.
The symptoms of bed bug bites can sometimes be difficult to distinguish from other common insect bites. In most cases, bed bug bites present as red, itchy spots located on the face, neck, arms, or hands. Often, the bites are arranged in a cluster or line.
Some people may experience an allergic reaction, which can include severe itching, blisters or hives. The symptoms of bed bug bites usually subside on their own within two weeks.
Oral antihistamines and hydrocortisone creams may help to speed up recovery. It is important to seek medical attention if you experience an allergic reaction or the symptoms persist. Presently, bed bugs are not known to carry any forms of disease or pathogens.
Many people believe that bed bugs are attracted to dirty or unhygienic environments, however this is not the case. It is important to note that the presence of bed bugs is not a reflection of the cleanliness of their environment. All that is required for a bed bug infestation is a warm host and sufficient hiding places.
If you suspect the presence of bed bugs in your home or the bunk of your truck, carefully inspect your bed and surrounding area. Make sure to look in all the small nooks and crannies, as they like to hide. Also, look for dark specks along mattress seams which may be bed bug excrement. Bed bug exoskeletons may also be present as they molt a few times before becoming adults. These exoskeletons are light brown in color. Bed bugs can also be detected by their characteristic smell of rotting raspberries.
Once the presence of bed bugs has been confirmed, it is important to take the necessary steps in order to eliminate them. This can be a difficult task, because they are very good at hiding.
A good place to start is to do a thorough vacuuming of the infested area. Next, washing all of your clothing in hot water can kill bed bugs. Similarly, placing clothing in a clothes dryer under high heat for 20 minutes will kill bed bugs and their eggs. Finally, if all else fails, contact a professional exterminator.
Bed bugs can have a significant impact on an individual’s health and quality of life. If left unchecked, they can lead to a significant problem.
Until next month, drive safely and don’t let those bed bugs bite!
Dr. Chris Singh runs Trans Canada Chiropractic in Woodstock, Ont.