“Cimex lectularius” has a common name that is inherently disturbing: “bed bug.” Our beds should be a safe haven; an escape from the outside world and life’s stress. These insects appear at night and crawl throughout your bed sheets, creating an incredibly unnerving feeling when you’re mustering every ounce of strength to maintain a consistent sleep schedule. Indeed, researchers have found, albeit in small sample sizes, that individuals with bed bug-ridden sleeping areas exhibit signs of restlessness and paranoia throughout the night. These blood suckers are truly an enigma when it comes to understanding their effect on human behavior and psychology.
Yet, many seem to cast unproven claims upon these creatures due to their troubling habits. They cause people to jam every available bed sheet into garbage bags or set fire to belongings within close proximity of the bugs. While bed bugs are certainly a public health pest that your maintenance staff be aware of, many ill-informed opinions exist about bed bugs within the medical setting. Today, the bed bug experts at Holder’s Pest Solutions debunk a few popular myths and give reasons why one should not panic upon seeing them in your hospital.
Myth #1: Bed Bugs Transmit Diseases and Exacerbate Present Medical Isusses
Bed bugs fall under the parasite distinction, associated with innumerable insects transmitting a host of lethal pathogens from malaria to Lyme disease. The word “parasite” triggers a deep seated fear in most of us and there’s no distinction necessary in the human mind: parasites are out to kill me and that’s that.
These creatures, however, haven’t been shown to carry diseases that are communicable to humans. While their bite marks may cause skin irritation or an allergic reaction in a minority, bed bugs are much less harmful than a typical mosquito. Even to your hospital’s patients, bed bugs will not generally aggravate standing health problems or impede someone’s recovery. By and large, they’re more of a nuisance than an emergency.
Myth #2: Bed bugs Cannot Infiltrate a Sterile Environment, Such As a Hospital. As Such, I Shouldn’t Consider Looking For Them
One might think to associate bed bugs with filth, as years of experience have taught us that insects gravitate towards garbage and waste. You would expect a sterile environment, such as a hospital, to act as an impenetrable fortress against any form of outside pest invasion.
These creatures behave differently than the ants and bees that crowd overfilled dumpsters or messy college dorm rooms in search of sweet tasting nectar. Indeed, bed bugs thrive in environments that provide two things: blood and warmth. They hide in mattresses, cling to the linens of beds and easily move on to the fibers of your clothing, quietly riding along as you go about your day. It makes sense that, in the daily shuffle of entrances and exits to your hospital, someone will inevitably bring these hitchhikers through your doors and into your beds.
No environment is completely safe nor is there an all-encompassing measure your staff can implement in order to prevent an outbreak from establishing. Thus, you should work alongside the maintenance crew and thoroughly train employees on how to spot bed bugs and what to do in response to a discovery.
Myth #3: Bed bugs Are Invisible to the Human Eye
“Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite,” is a familiar children’s rhyme that many of us learn at a young age. But have you ever thought that maybe this is skewing our perception of bed bugs? The phrase gives the impression that they’re some mythical creature, appearing from the shadowy corners of your room as soon as your eyes close.
While it’s true bed bugs mainly emerge at night and are excellent hiders, they are still visible throughout the day if you know where to look and they can be recognized without the help of any optic-enhancing device (i.e. a magnifying glass or microscope). Adults bear resemblance to an apple seed, exhibiting an oval shape and brownish-red skin tone. Even more noticeable, are the fecal stains they excrete after digestion. Especially across a white mattress background where you will notice dark, semi-liquid spots reminiscent of ink stains, marking the unmistakable evidence of the ubiquitous bed bug.