The St. Francois County Health Center (SFCHC) has released information regarding bed bugs to inform area residents about the insects and what to do to prevent infestations.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bed bugs are small insects that feed on the blood of humans and animals while they sleep. Bed bugs are reddish-brown, wingless, and can survive several months without a feeding. Bed bugs are a problem worldwide.
“Given the recent concern about bed bugs in the county, we thought it was important to provide information and resources to the community,” said SFCHC Director Amber Elliott.
Bed bug infestations most often occur near the areas where people sleep. They typically hide during the day in or around the place of sleep. Areas at most risk for infestations include homes, apartments, shelters, dorms, hotels, and public transit. A bed bug sighting does not necessarily indicate an infestation.
Bed bugs do not transmit disease; however, they are a nuisance and can be expensive to control. Their bites can cause itching and difficulty sleeping. Excessive scratching can lead to a secondary skin infection.
“It is not unusual to receive reports of bed bugs, although bed bugs are not mandated to be reported to the health department,” said Tiffany Roth, SFCHC communicable disease nurse. “When we received reports, we provide educational resources and referral to pest control.
“Complaints associated with lodging facilities in the county are directed to our Environmental Health Department,” Roth added.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) offers simple precautions to prevent bed bug infestations in your home:
• Check used furniture for any signs of bed bugs before bringing them into your home.
• Use a protective cover that encases mattresses and box springs.
• Reduce clutter in your home and vacuum frequently.
• Be cautious when using shared laundry facilities.
• If you live in a multi-family home, try to isolate your unit by sealing cracks and crevices around doors, baseboards, light sockets, etc.
• Consider purchasing a portable heating chamber to treat any items that you believe may have bed bugs. Be sure to read and follow the directions if you use one of these units and be aware that they are not regulated by EPA or other federal agencies.
If you suspect that you have an infestation, contact your landlord or professional pest control company that has experience with bed bugs. The best way to prevent bed bugs is regular inspection for the signs of an infestation.
Bobby Radford is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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