January 13, 2011

Survey: Bedbugs In America

As many as twenty percent of all Americans have either had an experience with bedbugs or knows someone who has and most of them say the small blood-sucking parasites are a source of worry for them, according to a new survey.

Seventy-eight percent of the 504 adults who responded to the online survey were most concerned about infested hotels, while others said they were afraid they may pick them up at work, the doctor's office, the movie theater or when using public transportation.

Missy Henriksen, vice president at the National Pest Management Association, told Reuters Life that she was "surprised just how pervasive the problem is."

Bedbugs, which are about the size of a grain of rice and flat-shaped, like to nuzzle in furniture and bedding upholstery and are extremely difficult to eradicate. Exterminators use powerful chemicals to rid apartments of bedbugs, an invasive process that forces tenants to seek shelter elsewhere during the process.

The most vulnerable people are younger adults who live in cities, the survey showed.

Some respondents said they changed their routines to minimize the risk of encountering the bug.

About 25 percent of those who responded said they have checked a hotel room for bedbugs and 12 percent have changed travel plans for fear of coming into contact with the pest. Others said they checked second-hand furniture and store dressing rooms as well.

Having a home or apartment infested with bedbugs can upset and hurt people's social lives. Around a third of the respondents said they would not invite friends who had the infestation into their homes, as people can carry bedbugs on their clothing.

The survey, however, also found there is wide-spread misinformation about bedbugs. Nearly half of the respondents believed that bedbugs transmit disease to humans and more than a quarter thought they are more common in lower income households and dirty homes. Both beliefs are inaccurate.

"The truth is that bedbugs do not discriminate in regard to cleanliness, nor do they prefer one socio-economic class to another," said Henriksen. "Bedbugs are found in penthouses and five-star hotels as well as in low-income housing and budget motels."

Image Courtesy CDC/ Harvard University, Dr. Gary Alpert; Dr. Harold Harlan; Richard Pollack. Photo Credit: Piotr Naskrecki


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