SANTA CLARA COUNTY, CALIF. – Recent media reports of bedbugs in Santa Clara County have raised questions about bedbugs - how to identify them, what steps to take if you suspect you have them in your home or business, or have seen them in a business or food facility, and who to contact. Bedbugs are small parasitic insects that feed on the blood of humans and other animals. They leave itchy, red bites that can become infected if scratched, but bedbugs are not known to transmit diseases.
In recent years, there have been increasing reports of bedbug infestations throughout the United States. Some of the factors that the experts think may have contributed to this resurgence are bedbugs’ resistance to common pesticides, increased international and domestic travel, economic restrictions that favored sharing housing, reusing discarded furniture, and homelessness.
The common perception is bedbugs are found in places where people live or sleep. Adult bedbugs are reddish brown flat bodies about one-quarter of an inch in length. Since they are wingless, they cannot fly. Instead, they either crawl or are carried from place to place. They move from infested areas to non-infested areas on clothing, luggage, furniture, or bedding that is brought into homes. Although uncommon, bedbugs may also be found anywhere that people gather such as food establishments, movie theatres, coffee shops, clothing stores and public transportation.
Bedbug infestations should be suspected when people suffer repetitive bites or when dark spots are found in bed linens or furniture. Bedbug bites look like a raised red bump or flat welt; they can itch intensely and are often mistaken for mosquito or flea bites. It is also common to find small dark spots of fecal matter behind furniture, on bed linens, and around areas where people sleep.
Bedbug infestations are very difficult to control, generally requiring the help of professional pest control operators. Physical measures are necessary during the treatment period, and can help prevent re-infestations. These measures include:
• Eliminating clutter;
• Vacuuming carpets (especially edges), mattresses, box springs, baseboards, and bed frames;
• Washing linen and clothes with hot water;
• If it is necessary use insecticide, consult with a pest control operator for the least toxic product; and
• Proper treatment and disposal of affected items, clothing, and furniture.
Although bedbug infestations in food facilities and other public spaces are uncommon, bedbugs can appear anywhere. If a bedbug infestation is suspected or bedbugs are found in public gathering places such as restaurants and movie theaters, customers should tell the manager and employees immediately, and then report it to the Consumer Protection Division of the Santa Clara County Environmental Health Department at 408-918-3400.
It is recommended that businesses take the following steps:
• Educate employees about bedbugs and what to do if bedbugs are found;
• If customers complain about bedbugs, take them seriously;
• If bedbugs are suspected, take a sample in a closed, sealed container to the Santa Clara County Vector Control District (SCCVCD) at 1580 Berger Dr., San José, CA 95112;
• Hire a pest management professional to treat for bedbugs. Be wary of companies that make unrealistic claims that bedbugs can be controlled with one visit;
• Follow all instructions from the pest management professional; and
• Consult with the pest management professional or Vector Control District on how to monitor for bedbugs.
For more information, contact the Santa Clara County Vector Control District at (408) 918-4770 or sccVector.org.
Media Contacts: Vector Control District: Russ Parman (408) 593-6176; José Colomé (408) 918-3404; Consumer Protection Division: Heather Forshey (408) 918-1958
Posted: April 24, 2013