So far, you probably believe that bed bugs are only found in homes and hotels. But you are about to be mind blown. According to experts in the field, other public places like hospitals, movie theaters, and nursing homes are susceptible to bed bug infestations as well. This is predominantly because of the high traffic they receive. Luckily, the management in these industries are aware of this and take the necessary precautions to help prevent full-blown outbreaks.
Below is the full list of places that pest control experts say are worst hit along with some questions to ease your curiosity
1. Nursing Homes
If you are in a nursing home, the last thing you will want to deal with is a bed bug infestation. But believe it or not, exterminators say that they have been getting many calls for work in nursing homes.
Close to 60% of pest control professionals found bed bugs in nursing homes in 2014. At the time, this was an increase from 46% recorded in 2013. Since then, the prevalence of infestation has increased significantly.
But why the increase? You see, nursing homes are difficult areas to treat bed bug infestations because of one simple reason – you cannot use pesticides freely in the space. Also, there a lot of things, including personal effects, picture frames, and linens.
According to an epidemiologist, Dr. Silvia Munoz Price, the personal belongings the elderly bring with them when they are admitted contribute to the bed bug problem. As you will see, the case is different for hospitals since it’s easier to spot bed bugs, and the cleaners are more vigilant.
And with constant admission of new individuals, bed bug problems seem to recur. Luckily, bed bugs are not known to cause or transmit diseases. Also, a quick inspection of the clothing and personal effects of those being admitted can help control the infestation.
So what should you do when you realize a nursing home is infested? Simple, follow the following steps;
- Call a professional pest control company to guide you on how to respond to the infestation before they arrive.
- All affected rooms should be vacated and then cleaned thoroughly (including the linens and garments).
- The carpet should be loosened around the perimeter of the room, and the furniture should be pulled away from the walls in preparation for professional bed bug treatment.
2. Schools and daycare centers
These places are super sensitive. This is because there is a lot of traffic. Teaching staff and kids come and go every day. Therefore the chances of spreading bed bugs to the entire community are high. But before we get to infestation, we would like to point out several things that people might have wrong
- First, it is true that bed bugs are often introduced into schools and healthcare centers from other infested places (usually homes). However, this is not always the case.
- Second, bed bugs do not point to a hygiene or poverty problem. Anyone can have them.
- Third, though it is difficult, a bed bug infestation can be stopped in a school and a daycare setting.
Introduction and infestation
There is a big difference between these two. The introduction happens when a bed bug(s) is dropped off into the facility. If it is not a female bed bug, or if it is and it cannot find a host, the infestation doesn’t kick-off. However, if a female bed bug finds hosts and lives long enough to lay eggs, then you have an infestation. At the very least, you will have hundreds of bed bugs from one bed bug over ten months. Using simple math, you can see how a single bed bug could end up causing a full-blown infestation in a short time.
Now, depending on which case you are handling (either introduction or infestation), you will look for bed bugs in different spots. In the case of introduction, bed bugs will be found where the personal belongings are stored, including cubbies, coat rooms, closets, and offices. But in the case of an infestation, they will be found in spots where people spend more time like cribs.
If you conduct a search and determine you have an infestation on your hands, you should not reach for a pesticide first. Remember, kids are fragile, and you never know what allergies they could have. Instead, you should call a pest exterminator immediately to handle the problem.
A guide to handling bed bugs in schools and daycares
Create a plan
Come up with a bed bug action plan in anticipation of such a problem. The plan should be specific and outline the responsibilities of individuals in charge when they see bed bugs or suspect kids have bed bug bites. Proactive monitoring, early detection, and prompt response will help to prevent the situation from turning into a full-blown infestation.
As pointed out, bed bugs come to school on personal belongings. And anyone can transport them to the premises. The main idea is to educate the school on;
- Basic bed bug anatomy, habits, and identification
- Their role in bed bug control
- The importance of being proactive
- Actions to be taken to reduce the spread of the infestation
- Who to reach out to in case of questions
Let parents know
- The institution recognizes that bed bugs are back and they have an action plan to handle them
- They too have a role to play in ensuring bed bugs don’t make it to the institutions
- They should tell the institution if they have a bed bug infestation at home
Things you should avoid
- You should not overreact at the sight of a bed bug – it could just be an introduction
- The school should not be closed, and the kids should not be sent home
- Students suspected of bringing bed bugs to school should not be stigmatized
- Pesticides should not be used
How to handle kids during a bed bug infestation
- Take the children for inspection
- The health professionals in the institution should inspect desks and classrooms
- Student belongings should be isolated using plastic bags
3. Office Buildings
Believe it or not, according to Statista, office buildings are the third most prevalent space for bed bugs. According to pest control companies, 46% of all the places they worked at in 2018 were office buildings. And this might seem a little off character for bed bugs because no one sleeps in the office. So how do they even get a blood meal and survive?
Well, numbers don’t lie. Also, the notion that bed bugs are nocturnal is what makes their existence in office spaces off. But they are not nocturnal. Bed bugs can feed any time they are hungry, provided there is a host. And the fact that employees sit in office seats for long hours makes them easy targets.
Like in schools and daycares, bed bugs are introduced into office spaces from homes. They hide in tiny crevices until they can lay eggs and take over the office. And before you start to think high-end office spaces and successful companies are immune, in 2017, the communication officer at Buzzfeed ordered employees to work from home to allow the company some time to deal with a bed bug infestation in a fast and environmentally friendly way.
On that day, their offices were open until 11 am. This gave them enough time to come in, grab their work tools, and leave pest control professionals to work.
But here is the bad news, even if you choose to handle a bed bug infestation like Buzzfeed did then, it doesn’t guarantee an eternal solution. Sure, the bed bugs can be completely eradicated, but still resurface a couple of weeks later if the source isn’t determined (usually an employee bringing bed bugs from home).
But dealing with such an employee is a delicate matter because stigma might be involved. Remember, people think having a bed bug infestation at home means someone is dirty. Also, the employee might not be forthcoming with the truth.
Because of the embarrassment involved, HR professionals should make employees understand the issue is handled confidentially and that they will not be punished for admitting. Moreover, employers can decide to offer unpaid or paid leave to the employee in question.
It’s important to note that the time away will not be covered by the ADA (Americans with Disabilities or the Family and Medical Leave Act) because bed bugs aren’t considered a serious health condition or a disability.
Now, getting rid of bed bugs is expensive, and most workers cannot afford professional help. Employers may offer to pay for the exterminator if the employee steps forward. They may also decide to let the employee stay home until the exterminator confirms the problem is dealt with.
The legal claims associated with bed bugs in the office
An employee exposed to bed bugs in the workplace can choose to file for negligence against the company. Some argue that they suffered a great deal of psychological detriment and even physically hurt. And as a result, they spent money they shouldn’t have.
To avoid being on the receiving end of these claims, a company should act fast once they realize they have a bed bug problem. Ignoring the situation could lead to paying loads of money in damages to third parties, customers, and employees.
4. College dorms
College life is meant to be fun and enlightening. But things could go south real fast if you have to deal with bed bugs. Luckily, most college administrators are aware of the problem and are proactive in their fight against bed bugs.
Most have action plans and call in exterminators at the start of every other semester. However, they can only do so much when there is so much traffic in and out of the dorms. Because of this, students are expected to take some action as well to stop the spread of bed bugs from home to the dorms and vice versa.
Before settling into the dorm room
- Students should inspect their rooms. Take a moment to inspect the rooms for any signs of bed bugs. This includes looking between the mattresses and the box springs for signs of feces, eggs, and molt.
- Students should carry a mattress encasement with them and keep their bed sheets out of reach of bed bugs.
- Wash the bed linens frequently in hot water and dry them thoroughly on high heat in a bid to kill the bed bugs
- Avoid buying second-hand furniture without inspecting them
- They should not leave their belongings on furniture for long periods
How to prevent the bed bugs from returning home
- Put your belongings in garbage bags before taking it home
- Wash and dry clothing in high heat that the fabric can withstand and dry them on high heat as well
- Vacuum and steam clean your suitcase, being extra careful with the lining
What to do when you see a bed bug in the dorm
If the worst-case scenario has happened, despite taking precautions, do not try to handle the situation alone. Home remedies don’t kill bed bugs, and for some, they make the situation worse. Instead, you should call the RA and have them enforce the college bed bug protocol.
Doctor and Outpatient Clinics
Just like hospitals, these are meant to be safe havens for the sick. But according to statistics, you cannot trust these spaces to be free of bed bugs either. Though private clinics tend to be cleaner in comparison to public facilities, some have been reported to have bed bugs.
Most bed bugs find their way to these clinics through personal belongings. Luckily, most clinics have bed bug control policies and plans of action. These include leaving the rooms intact to prevent a spread and notifying the housekeeping supervisor and supervising nurse of the same.
Bed bugs can breed anywhere there is human presence. Before, they were prevalent in hotels, but they are now taking over hospitals as well.
Bed bug infestations in hospitals are translated to mean poor hygiene and sanitation. And the bad news is that according to pest management companies, bed bug infestations in hospitals are on the rise.
According to a survey conducted by the NPMA in conjunction with the University of Kentucky, professional pest controllers reported dealing with bed bugs in hospitals 36% of the time. This was an increase from 33% in the previous year.
Though many factors contribute to this rise in the healthcare sector, at the top of the list is a high patient turnover as well as frequent vendors and visitors. Simply put, the more visitors a hospital receives, the higher the risk of a bed bug infestation.
With that in mind, it only means that as hotels usually deal with more cases of bed bug infestations during summer (when it is peak travel season), hospitals deal with the problem during winter when people are suffering from seasonal illnesses.
Because of this, it’s important for hospital managers to;
- Understand the high-risk areas
- Come up with a proactive program to address the problems
- Have a predetermined protocol to handle infestations
Public transport officials usually have to deal with loads of problems, including bed bugs. The managers at the SEPTS system in Philadelphia were thrown under a microscope by a video that showed bed bugs crawling across the bus seats. The video was taken by a local woman who took the bus and discovered she was allergic when she developed a rash around the bed bug bite.
When the video went viral, the officials went on record, stating that they had an elaborate program designed to handle the bed bugs using a chemical treatment once every month. But as it turned out, once a month doesn’t quite cut it. The company also said that they were changing the bus seats to help in their fight against bed bugs on their buses. When the bed bugs were found, the bus pulled over, and the passengers alighted.
This incidence captured the attention of many people who had a lot to weigh in on the matter. Mostly because it is a reality, most transportation companies would rather sweep under the rug until they are caught red-handed.
In another instant, Chris Rusak, a passenger on the Metro subway, was shocked when a bed bug crawled from the seat and on his shorts. It suddenly dawned on him that the patterned fabric camouflage was a lot more than just dirt.
Since the train could not stop for him to alight, he flicked the bug off and vowed never to use the metro again. This incident also caught the attention of many. Most individuals blame the rise of bed bugs on the change of the seat fabric. Their claim is true because fabric tends to hide more dirt than other materials.
So what should you do and you have to travel? Well, for starters, you can avoid soft coverings like fabric-lined surfaces and upholstered seats (bed bugs love that they are soft). Second, you can avoid putting your luggage in the trunk of a taxi. Doing so increases the chances of bed bugs hitchhiking on your belongings.
7. Retail Stores
Clearly, bed bugs are not a household problem since they are showing up even in clothing stores. Who wants to buy clothes along with bed bugs? The sight of a bed bug in a store can ruin its reputation and permanently damage customer relations. It’s important for the store owners to understand there is a rise in bed bugs and take necessary steps towards protecting the establishment and dealing with the problem if and when it arises.
What retail stores can do to protect their businesses
- Educate the staff about bed bugs, ensuring that they can identify these little buggers
- Be on the lookout for bed bugs, especially on upholstered furniture
- If you have fitting rooms, ensure they are vacuumed thoroughly and frequently
- Clear clutter from the storage rooms and inspect employee break rooms
- Inspect shipments, deliveries and return for bed bugs
- Have an intricate program for dealing with bed bugs in the store. This includes bagging all infested items
- Call pest control professionals
8. Movie Theaters
An enjoyable movie night should not be marred by the sight of a bed bug. But that is the sad reality for some individuals living in the city. According to studies, some of the big and common theatres in popular cities are infested with bed bugs. There is very little that you can do to prevent the theatres from having bed bugs. However, you can prevent them from finding their way to your home.
But why do movie theatres have bed bugs? Like with other establishments, it’s because they receive a lot of traffic for short periods. Some people (unknown to them) bring bed bugs with them.
According to a NPMA study, 13% of pest control calls were from movie theatres. A quick internet search will confirm this number. For instance, ABC News reported an infestation in Marion, Indiana.
And according to KSHB, there was a complaint that a bed bug was spotted in a movie theatre in Missouri. In the story, the lady said she felt the bed bug crawling up her ankle and then later discovered two bed bug bites. She took a step to complain to the theatre’s manager, who was honest about receiving similar complaints from customers.
Last but not least, there is a story by CNN, which claimed that bed bugs were spotted in the AMC Empire movie theatre. The theatre was shut down immediately for treatment.
1. Do furniture stores have bed bugs?
Furniture stores fall under the category of retail stores. However, furniture stores are at a higher risk because the furniture provides perfect hiding spots. If a store is not vigilant to ensure they remain bed bug-free, they will have a full-blown infestation on their hands.
2. What can I wear to prevent bed bugs?
Wear light-colored and washable clothing. These will make it easier to sport bed bugs that may be crawling on the clothes. Also, wear protective booties when you walk into a space suspected to be infested.
3. Can bed bugs swim?
Bed bugs can crawl for long distances. However, their swimming abilities are almost non-existent. They can, however, float because they are light and flat. But if the surface tension is broken, the bug will sink, and its chances of survival are zero. Also, a bed bug that is well fed has no chance of floating back to the surface.
4. How do you prevent bed bug infestation in a public place?
Public places include offices, classrooms, and other non-residential spaces such as retail stores. Some of the steps that you can take to prevent an infestation include:
- Reduce clutter
- Keep your belongings separate from those of other employees
- Be extra alert when in places where bed bugs are likely to be hiding
- Establish a monitoring program so that if a bed bug is spotted, the situation will be dealt with immediately.
- Educate employees on how to identify a bed bug
- Discourage stigma and panic
5. How fast do bed bugs move?
Bed bugs crawl between three to four feet every minute on many surfaces. It might not sound like it’s fast, but when you scale these numbers to human proportions, the speed is equal to an adult sprinting.
6. Can bed bugs live in a warehouse?
Yes, they can. Actually, warehouses are ideal because there are lots of spots to hide. If there is poor handling of shipment and goods returned, the warehouse will be overrun with bed bugs.
7. How can you tell if bed bugs are in your clothes?
The easiest way of telling if your clothes are infested is by taking them from your closet and laying them on a brightly colored fabric. Shake the clothes over the fabric one at a time and then inspect the sheet for bed bug feces, eggs, molts, or live bed bugs.
8. Are bed bugs common in NYC?
NYC is a top tourist destination. A lot of good things are said about it. But there is a dark side. According to research by Orkin, a pest control company, New York is the fourth-worst bed bug-infested city (in 2015).
9. Are bed bugs an OSHA violation?
Yes, they are. Under the OSHA rules and regulations, employers have the obligation of providing employees with a safe working environment that is free of hazards, and that may cause physical harm. Because of this, the management should take immediate action against these.
10. Can you get bed bugs from outside?
Well, bed bugs are never outdoors by choice. They are hitchhikers and therefore brought there by individuals. Otherwise, they prefer to be in closed spaces like your home, offices, trains, buses, and the like.
11. Do bed bugs get into cars?
Yes, they do. However, they use them only to move from one host to another. They don’t stay around for long. Chances of finding bed bugs mating or nesting in your car are slim.
12. Can bed bugs travel in clothes?
It’s unlikely that bed bugs will travel on the clothes you are wearing. This is because you move too much, meaning you are not a good hiding place. They are more likely to travel through backpacks, luggage, mattresses, briefcases, and furniture.
13. Does Amtrak have bed bugs?
According to the NPMA research, trains are hot spots for bed bugs. However, Amtrak uses strong chemicals for cleaning, which kills bed bugs. But according to passengers on different forums, you still need to be on the lookout for bed bugs.
14. Can you catch bed bugs from sitting next to someone?
Bed bugs aren’t contagious. They cannot spread from one person to another. They only spread when you come into contact with infested clothing, bedding, and furniture.
15. Can I get bed bugs from a patient?
Bed bugs don’t live on humans. They hide in dark spaces and only come out to feed at night. There is a small chance that a patient can spread it to anyone.
16. How long does a bed bug infestation take to show up?
Generally, bed bugs take about seven weeks to grow from an egg into a bed bug adult. During this period, you will not have new adults. After the seven weeks, things will spiral out of control because the hundreds of new adult bed bugs will lay eggs, and after a few weeks, you will have thousands of bed bugs.
17. Can one-bed bug start an infestation?
It depends on the gender. A male bed bug cannot start an infestation, but a female bed bug can. For a bed bug colony to grow, you only need one female bed bug to survive and lay eggs.
18. Do bed bugs stay in one room?
Yes, they do, but only if the food source is within the room. If you move bedrooms, for instance, they will move as well. Because of this, pest exterminators never focus on one room, but the entire building for efficient extermination.
19. Should kids stay home if the school or daycare is infested?
No, they should not. Such institutions have bed bug action plans which allow learning to progress and handle extermination safely. However, in case of an infestation, check your child every day they come back home from school for bed bugs.