An interview with Susan E. Little, DVM, PhD, Diplomate EVPC (professor and Krull-Ewing Endowed chair in Veterinary Parasitology at Oklahoma State University), elicited some interesting information about the current bed bug epidemic in the U.S.
Bed bugs haven’t been a problem in this country for over 50 years, but they remained prevalent in other locations throughout the world, including Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.
However, bed bugs are again turning up across the U.S. in a wide variety of locations, including:
- Homes and apartments
- Hotels and motels
- Office buildings
- Health care facilities
- Schools and dormitories
- Public transportation
- Movie theaters
- Laundries and dry cleaners
- Furniture rental outlets
According to Dr. Little, the problem is thought to be a combination of:
- Increased travel, especially internationally
- Growing resistance to pesticides
- The move away from using ‘broadcast’ pesticides (sprays and bombs) in households, leaving areas of homes (primarily bedrooms) where bed bugs proliferate pesticide-free
If you suspect the source of your pet’s itching might be bed bugs, the first things you should carefully inspect are the mattresses, box springs, bed frames and the areas around the beds in your home.
Then widen your search to include other areas of the bedrooms, including around baseboards, in corners, cracks, crevices and similar hiding places. Look for dark staining or speckling. Bed bug droppings look similar to flea dirt. Also look for eggs and molted skin that has dropped off.
As Dr. Little points out in her interview:
“Bed bugs are really a human problem that also happen to affect the pets that live in the home. As veterinarians, clients may come to us with a bed bug problem and we need to be able to help them, but the pets are not the source of the infestation or the only host sustaining the bed bugs in that home.”