Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bed bugs halt Stamford non-profit's clothing collection

STAMFORD -- St. Luke's LifeWorks has stopped accepting clothing donations, because the organization suspects this has been bringing unwanted visitors into its residences.

St. Luke's is the fifth Stamford address this month to show evidence of bed bugs, said city health inspector Amy Lehaney. This year, the city has seen an average of four bed bug infestations each month, according to city data.

The organization, which houses 400 people annually, provides education as well as emergency, transitional and permanent housing to families and individuals, including those living with mental illness and HIV/AIDS.

In early October, clothing for babies, children and career-wear was accepted only by appointment.

Bob Rimmer, St. Luke's LifeWorks chief residential officer said because of ongoing struggles with infestations, St. Luke's had to shut down its in-house clothing exchange. The organization halted the furniture collection some time ago, Rimmer said, after a donated couch caused an infestation in the South End campus.

According to data from the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the nocturnal bloodsuckers, which measure about 5 to 8 millimeters, reemerged in the past few years after almost two decades.

No one knows what caused the resurgence, but some experts believe it coincides with the banning of powerful chemicals such as DDT, which killed the insects but were harmful for the environment.

New York City received roughly 900 complaints in 2005, and 9,000 complaints last year, according to the EPA.

There are no precise numbers of reported complaints or confirmed bed bug infestations in Connecticut, said Dr. Gale Ridge, an entomologist with the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven.

"It's a pandemic worldwide," Ridge said. "New England is having issues, because of old construction. There are more nooks and crannies for these to hide in."

Ridge attended the EPA's first "bed bug summit" in April, which discussed spreading awareness of the problem and creating a reporting system to document cases.

"Primarily we hope to educate the public to eliminate the social stigma, which if we did start a reporting program, would never be accurate because people would never admit they had bed bugs."

Anyone can get bed bugs -- "we're all lunch," she said.

It's more of a concern in a place where residents frequently come and go, Rimmer said, like the residential program, or the city' STD clinic on the first floor of LifeWorks' Franklin Street headquarters.

That's where bed bugs were discovered two weeks ago, when one was seen crawling on the clinic wall, city nursing director Olga Brown said.

"We took it very seriously, because they can multiply so easily," Brown said.

St. Luke's immediately hired an exterminating company and the first round of treatment occurred last week, Lehaney said.

The organization, which sees annual foot traffic of roughly 40,000, has taken further precautions, paying for each new resident to launder all their belongings in hot water before moving in. For a family, this can cost upwards of $60, he said.

Even though the precautions exist to protect their clients, Lynne Menon, the director of communications, said long-time clothing donors are upset about not being able to gift clothing to the program.

Dana Low, the chairman of the organization's board, said unfortunately, in this infestation, St. Luke's is "not all that unique."

"We don't think this is going to keep from doing what we need to do," he said.

Sourced By: Staff Writer Devon Lash

Residents say bed bugs return to senior housing in Stamford

STAMFORD -- Bed bugs have again infested a downtown senior housing complex where officials last year thought they had won a long-fought battle with the blood-sucking insects, residents said.

Charter Oak Communities, the city housing authority, declared victory over the vermin at Stamford Manor last November after dozens of complaints prompted the quasi-public agency to systematically exterminate every floor of the Main Street building. The problem first became rampant in summer 2007, residents have said.

After a lull, some Stamford Manor residents now say the problem is reemerging at the building housing seniors and people with disabilities.

"That's the main conversation here is about the bugs," Stamford manor resident Darge Harris, 54, said. "It seemed like everything was OK, but they're back."

Harris, who still has blackened scars from the widespread bed bug scourge last year, said he started noticing bites again about four months ago. Several attempts to notify the management at the building have been thwarted, he said.

The woman in charge of taking maintenance requests has ignored his complaints, Harris said.

"She keeps telling me that I should clean my apartment," he said. "That was insulting to me, because it's like they're saying I'm dirty."

Nothing is out of place in Harris's fourth-floor apartment as he shows the studio where he said the insects are keeping him up at night. The floor is swept, the stove is a spotless white, and teacups sit in a perfect row on a kitchen counter. A white cushion drapes over the sofa, so that insects will be more visible, Harris said.

Harris points to blood stains on the bed spread. The stains are proof that the parasitic insects are in the apartment, he said.

"Someone should be able to do something about this," Harris said. "I'm saying, as a human being, I cannot continue living with bugs."

Harris, who is HIV positive, said his doctor wrote a letter last year stating that the insect problem was detrimental to his health because of the stress it was causing him.

Charter Oak Executive Director Vin Tufo said the authority has received "sporadic" bed bug complaints from Stamford Manor residents, but the problem does not appear as widespread as last year.

"The problem last year looks like it pretty well abated," Tufo said. "It seems to be under control."

Tufo said there have been about "half a dozen" bed bug reports in the last few months. Charter Oak has sent an exterminator -- Knock Out Exterminating -- about once every two months to treat apartments where residents reported problems, Tufo said.

Harris and other Stamford Manor residents said they believe neighbors are introducing bugs into the building by bringing in used furniture and trash. Residents sometimes discard items in the corridors and stairwells, and they remain there for days, Harris said.

"People bring stuff from the streets," said one resident, who did not wish to be named. "That's the major problem we're having, people just leave junk out in the hallways."

The resident, who did not want to reveal his identity because he feared it would cause trouble with building management, said maintenance often does not respond to such problems, even when residents report them.

Tufo said he had not heard of any residents discarding items in the building, but said Charter Oak would investigate if officials knew of such a case, especially if it contributed to bringing bed bugs into the building.

"If it was causing an exacerbation of the problem, we absolutely would step in," Tufo said.

Amy Lehaney, a city health inspector, said the last confirmed case of bed bugs at Stamford Manor was verified on June 3, when a resident brought in a bed bug. Charter Oak sent confirmation of extermination on July 3. Not all bed bug complaints reach the Health Department, as Charter Oak asks residents to make reports to the housing authority first.

The city received a sample from a resident at Stamford Manor on Nov. 13, but laboratory tests found it was a squash beetle, not a bed bug. Squash beetles are a type of lady bugs.

Sourced By: Staff Writer Devon Lash contributed to this article
Sourced By: Magdalene Perez, Staff Writer

Schools Report Rise In Bed Bug Cases

School officials say the number of bed bugs in city classrooms are on the rise despite efforts to contain them. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report
Last week, PS 163 had bed bugs, again. Several times in the past year, the school has found the pesky critters on students, faculty and in classrooms. A growing number of city schools are dealing with the bugs. Parents, teachers and students say it's a nuisance, a distraction and a worry.

"I just hope they combat it because it really interrupts the children’s learning and it interrupts our teaching and it interrupts everyone's lives," said PS 163 teacher Patricia Cardenas.
The Department of Education says bed bugs come into schools on clothing, bags or backpacks. Although the department couldn't give any data on the number of incidents, officials say the problem has gotten worse.
The DOE won't send exterminators to a school until a dead bed bug is mailed to a lab. But adults at PS 163 say the key is to think ahead.
"We had a plan in place right away, so we are further ahead I think than a lot of schools but it isn't good for anybody," said PS 163 PTA Co-president Carrie Reynolds
A few blocks south from PS 163, at the American Museum of Natural History, bed bugs feed by biting entomologist Lou Sorkin's hands. The bites don't spread disease, but in three quarters of people they cause an itchy rash. Sorkin says the problem has gotten worse across the city and schools need to take action.
"They should be proactive. Maybe give the students large ziplocked bags in which they can place their clothing and book bags. And if children have infestations, they should be told about it and then their parents can do something about it," Sorkin said.
The DOE doesn't provide sealed plastic bags, but the PTA and teachers at PS 163 say they have bought enough for everyone. Now three times a day, students and teachers seal up their belongings. The bags weren't cheap and the procedure is time consuming but the alternative is worse.
Parents and educators say they are very concerned about the bugs being carried from the schools into homes, forcing families to hire expensive exterminators and even throw out some furniture.
The DOE says it can't completely solve the problem since every time it clears a school, a brand new bug can ride someone's coattail right back in.

Source By: By: Lindsey Christ

Friday, November 20, 2009

Bed Bug Symptoms

By Mayo Clinic staff

Bedbug bites
Signs and symptoms of bedbug bites will usually affect only the surface of your skin, revealing themselves as small itchy red bumps known as papules or wheals. You might find the lesions in a linear or clustered fashion, indicative of repeated feedings by a single bedbug.

Some people may develop allergic reactions or larger skin reactions such as:

Large, itchy wheals up to 8 inches (20 centimeters) across
Blister-like skin inflammations
Groups of small, swollen sacs of pus
Skin rashes similar to hives

Access-A-Ride workers say Long Island City location is infested with bedbugs

Sourced By: BY Joe Kemp

Dozens of irate workers rallied outside a city contractor's office building in Long Island City Wednesday, demanding that management fumigate their workplace after a year-long bedbug infestation.

The bugs have been found in the offices for Access-A-Ride dispatchers on Northern Blvd. since the summer of 2008, but management ignored the problem until a pest-sniffing dog confirmed the cubicles were overrun with the insects, workers charged.

"I hope it will force some pressure for them to do something," said John Wau, 48, who showed pinprick-sized scars along his right arm that he said came from numerous bedbug bites.

"They keep telling us not to worry, that everything is okay," said Wau, a customer service representative. "But they're not doing anything about it."

Since the bedbugs were detected Friday on the seventh and eighth floors of the facility - where more than 700 dispatchers work for the firm - sections have been taped off to keep employees away from the infested areas and several items were removed, workers said.

Officials from NYC Transit, which operates Access-A-Ride, said the problem is being addressed.

"One of the recommendations to be implemented within the next two days will be the steam-cleaning of carpets, cubicles and office chairs of the call centers," said spokesman Charles Seaton.

Workers said they're itching to be rid of the tiny pests soon.

"They really need to clean this place," said Idalia Perez, 33, who works in customer service. "This is not a joke."

Perez, a mother of two children, said she had to live with her sister for more than three weeks when she inadvertently brought the bedbugs back to her Bronx apartment in August 2008.

Her landlord paid to fumigate her home, but Perez said she had to toss out all of her bedroom and living room furniture, costing thousands of dollars to replace.

"I'm still paying for it," she said. "They [Access-A-Ride] never offered to help with any of it."

Access-A-Ride provides van service for the disabled who cannot use subways, buses or commuter railroads.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Weapon Uses Bed Bug's Own Juice

Researchers have enlisted a new weapon against bed bugs: their own chemical signals. It's first time scientists have used any insect's alarm pheromones as a method of control.
While the new technique probably won't single-handedly solve anyone's bed bug woes, experts say, the research may add to our arsenal of tools for fighting what has become a disturbing nuisance for a growing number of people.
"To control bed bugs, there's not going to be one easy solution," said Joshua Benoit, an entomologist at Ohio State University in Columbus. "We are trying to encourage people to find new and creative ways to kill bed bugs."
Bed-bug infestations have been on the rise in recent years, Benoit said, probably because people travel so much. All it takes is one pregnant female hopping a ride in a suitcase for a new crop of insects to invade homes and apartment buildings.
The tiny critters don't spread diseases, but a single person can easily get a few hundred bites in one night. Those chomps cause intense itching and even scarring in some people.

So far, there is no ideal way to get rid of bed bugs. Pesticide treatments can be expensive, invasive, toxic, and often ineffective. Already, the insects have developed resistance to some of the most common chemicals used to fight them.
In an effort to get the upper hand, Benoit experimented with alarm pheromones -- the chemicals that bed bugs release when they're disturbed or in danger. In turn, their comrades get excited and start scurrying around.
Benoit and colleagues mixed synthetic versions of bed-bug alarm pheromones with desiccant dust, a pesticide that works by drying insects out. In order to work, the bugs need to run directly through the dust.
The researchers placed varying concentrations of these mixtures in Petri dishes and in small enclosures that contained hiding places for the insects. Then they added bed bugs.
Their results, published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, showed that mixtures of alarm pheromones and desiccant dust killed up to 50 percent more bed bugs than did desiccant dust alone. The idea is that the pheromones get the bugs to move around more, making them more likely to run through the dust, which is relatively non-toxic and inexpensive.
"This is the first study of its kind to use alarm pheromones in this manner," Benoit said, "for any insect."

It's still way too soon to recommend that people run out and buy alarm pheromones (which are synthesized for other purposes, including as food preservatives). Outside the confines of a plastic dish, getting bed bugs to run around like crazy is not necessarily a good thing, said Michael Potter, an urban entomologist at the University of Kentucky, Lexington. Bed bugs are notoriously good at getting behind baseboards, inside walls, and into other cracks and crevices.
"Some might run into the apartment next door," Potter said. "Some might run into inaccessible areas."
In one recent incident in Columbus, Benoit said, bed bugs had infested 23 out of 24 units in an apartment building. Residents had to leave their homes for a week while the building was fumigated. Even then, there was no guarantee that the treatment killed all the bugs.
The incident illustrates how important it is to continue learning more about the inner workings of these pests.
"Any new work on bed bugs," Potter said, "is interesting work."

Source By: Emily Sohn, Discovery News

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bed Bugs Becoming Problem in Ohio

There are more reports of bed bugs surfacing in Ohio, and hotel rooms seem to be their breeding grounds.
65 to 70 percent of hotel rooms have reported infestations at one time.
"Most likely it's because of our mobile society. People do a lot of traveling and they're picking those insects up either in another state or even in anouther country, bringing them back to Ohio, " says OSU Extension Program's Mark Mechling.
The bed bugs have also developed a resistance to the conventional insecticides being used to kill them. So, the Ohio Department of Agriculture is looking to other means to help control the problem.
"They're proposing to use another insecticide that hasn't been used for a number of years. They're petitioning the epa to allow this insecticide to be used by commercial applicators to control the bed bugs, " says Mechling.
Mechling says the EPA is in the process of measuring the risks or benefits of this particular insecticide.

Source By: Emily Baird
Posted: Monday, November 16, 2009 - 5:56pm

Friday, November 13, 2009

Researcher hunts for safe solution to creeping bed bug population

By Kayla Duran
Contributing Writer
Source: Daily Targum University
Published: Thursday, November 12, 2009
Updated: Friday, November 13, 2009

Residents can sleep a little better tonight knowing that University Assistant Extension Specialist Changlu Wang is conducting research on bedbug prevention. This comes on the heels of rising numbers of bed bug cases in New Brunswick and the Northeast.Wang is conducting entomology research on different ways people can prevent the start and spread of bed bugs in an affordable manner, especially considering the high demand for new ways to combat bed bug infestation.“[The Northeast] is probably one of the most infested areas in our country. I have to respond. I receive a lot of questions because I have that extension [position]. … So naturally I have to do research on this so I can have the information,” Wang said.Bed bugs live in furniture and come out only to feed on their host. Humans are commonly victims because bed bugs are attracted to carbon dioxide and blood.“They are attracted by heat and carbon dioxide. They are attracted to your breath,” said Wang in a Rutgers FOCUS article.But bed bugs were not always so prevalent in this area. Due to the now-banned pesticide dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane, better known as DDT, bed bugs were nearly extinct, according to the article.“[DDT] was very strong, very effective, but of course, in modern standards they are too strong, too dangerous,” Wang said.Wang said since DDT was so potent, the Environmental Protection Agency decided to ban it being used at homes because the residue can stay in a house for more than 50 years.Now with the increasing numbers of people traveling to foreign countries and bringing back the insects, as well as filthiness in urban areas, the bed bug has made a comeback, he said.Wang uses different contraptions in his experiments to determine infestation, such as a cat feeder-like mechanism used as boundary at the leg of a piece of furniture. The first circle of the device measures how many bed bugs are in the room and prevents them from getting to the furniture, he said.The second circle determines how many bed bugs come from the furniture itself and prevents them from infiltrating the rest of the room. “The compound that attracts bedbugs also kills them at high doses. Wang and his assistant, [Vincenzo] Averello, will test the lethality of various carbon dioxide concentrations and exposure times,” according to the article.Averello, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences sophomore double majoring in genetics and ecology, was attracted to the research because it involved both of his interests. “It has a bit of an ecology element to it, with a sense of [what] a whole population is doing. … Because effectively all studies are populations, [and that’s] what it comes down to here,” Averello said. “So that’s part of why I came here. … I’ve always had a thing for bugs since I was a little kid.”Maria Camacho, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, is fearful of the recent bed bug infestation in the area and would like to see effective change in prevention.“I feel like someone has to get the job done. So at least he’s doing something about it,” Camacho said. “And hopefully it’ll be something productive that has results.” For the meantime, Wang suggests that everyone be careful when they go to other homes and check to see if there are any brown spots on the sofa that might seem like bed bug infestation. He also suggests regularly checking furniture and rooms for any possible signs of infestation.

Source: Daily Targum University

School district sprays for bedbugs

By KENT JACKSON (Staff Writer) Published: November 12, 2009

The discovery of a child with a bedbug bite at the Valley Elementary Middle School on Tuesday led exterminators to search five schools on Veterans Day to make sure there was no infestation before classes resumed Thursday.
School administrators checked with the family of the student who was bitten and found that she had attended a sleepover. Her family and the family that hosted the sleepover have a total of six children who attend five schools: Valley, Hazleton Area High School, the Ninth Grade Center, the Hazleton Area Career Center and Heights-Terrace Elementary/Middle School.
Administrators spent the holiday with technicians from the district's exterminator, All 'Bout Critters Pest Control Co., searching those schools and checking the school schedules of the six students.
"The simplest method is to follow the student through the day," Ken Temborski of ABC Pest Control said.
So technicians checked the classrooms, lockers and buses of the six students.
"We found nothing," Temborski said.
As a precaution, technicians sprayed a mix of five chemicals in the areas where the students traveled. Temborski said the chemicals don't harm people and dry in two to four hours, so the closing of school for Veterans Day provided an ideal time to work.
"It was a coordinated effort. It was swift, very efficient," Sam Marolo, the district's superintendent, said.
The two families hired ABC Pest Control to exterminate the bedbugs in their homes, and their children won't return to school until the work is done. Temborski said treating bedbugs takes at least two treatments given two days apart.
Bedbugs are on the rise nationally, hard to see and live in crevices of furniture and bedding, he said. Impervious to household cleansers like bleach, they feed at night, but the bites don't erupt until one to three days later.
Bedbugs are attracted to body heat and not spread by dirt and filth, Temborski said.
"It's nothing to be embarrassed about," he said.

Source: Citizen's Voice

Thursday, November 12, 2009

EPA Special Request

The Department of Agriculture for many states have requested that the EPA make an emergency exemption for the use of Propoxur in residential application. The pesticide is currently used agriculture crops and restricted from residential use.

Bed Bug Study

Hey everyone, The city of Toronto released a new study out on bed bugs. Click on the link for the PDF

Friday, November 6, 2009

By Adam Voiland
Posted 7/8/07
For Kyle Anderson, 19, the battle began with a row of welts on his stomach. Soon the Arizona State University student, who was living in a private apartment complex in Tempe, was waking up repeatedly at night to smash anything that moved.

His prey? Cimex lectularius, those notorious nocturnal, lentil-size bedbugs that feed on human blood, can travel on anything from luggage to a used sofa and are now popping up everywhere across America—from homes to hotels to summer camps—in surprisingly large numbers. "History is repeating itself," says Michael Potter, an entomologist from the University of Kentucky and a leading bedbug expert, who notes that most American homes were crawling with the bugs prior to World War II. The widespread use of potent insecticides such as DDT nearly wiped them out. Experts aren't sure what's spurring a comeback now, but they theorize it's a combination of international travel and the move away from strong pesticides.
"If bedbugs transmitted disease, what's happening would be considered a huge epidemic," says Dini Miller, an entomologist at Virginia Tech who, like Potter, is one of only a handful of researchers studying live bedbugs in the lab. Though bedbugs have been shown to harbor 28 pathogens temporarily—including HIV and hepatitis B—numerous studies have shown the pathogens fail to thrive in the host enough to spread disease to people.
Psychological pest. There's no doubt, however, that the wingless bugs, which inject an anesthetic to mask their feeding, make some people itch and spread the willies. "They come in the dark; they feed on you; they scurry away when you turn the light on," says Lynn Kimsey, director of the Bohart Museum of Entomology at the University of California-Davis. And they are indeed tough to beat. Their waxy cuticle resists desiccation, and they can live for more than a year without a blood meal. Unlike head lice, which tend to die once they drop away from the scalp, they scatter into the cracks and crevices of a room, so exterminators have to track down and kill bugs individually. The eggs are tiny and easy to miss; overlook a few, and the bugs bounce back.
Moreover, says Potter, many have grown resistant to the chemicals used to fight them, mainly a class of insecticides known as pyrethroids. Potter and University of Kentucky researchers showed that bedbugs collected randomly around the country were up to thousands of times more resistant to the chemicals than a nonresistant laboratory strain of bug.
"We make no guarantees," says Matt Nixon, CEO of American Pest Management, an extermination company that serves the Washington, D.C., area. Exterminators say eradicating bedbugs usually requires a multipronged approach (for example, the use of chemical agents, targeted vacuuming and steaming, and possible disposal of infested furniture) and a number of follow-up visits to confirm that no stragglers remain. The entire process can easily run more than $500.
Business is booming. Nixon's company treated nine homes and hundreds of apartments for bedbugs in May alone—up from zero jobs during May of 2002. The National Pest Management Association, the trade group of more than 5,000 companies, reports a 71 percent increase in bedbug calls between 2000 and 2005. Entomologists say their phones are ringing off the hook with pleas for guidance. Stephen Kells, an entomologist from the University of Minnesota, estimates that as many as 1 in 6,000 single-family homes is now infested.

You May Not Be Alone
Here's how you can keep those bedbugs from biting
By Adam Voiland
Posted 7/8/07
Page 2 of 2
Some people take bedbugs in stride; for others, killing them becomes almost an obsession. Exterminators, entomologists, and Internet forums are full of war stories: a girl from New York who dumped 5 gallons of insecticide on her mattress; people who have claimed multimillion-dollar damages in court; a photographer from New York who started microwaving her books; and a woman from West Virginia who sprays herself with pesticides before climbing into her bed.

Such stories of misery cause some experts to argue that the problem has been blown completely out of proportion. "Some people in the industry are grandstanding," says Richard Pollack, an entomologist at Harvard University, who notes that mosquitoes, which spread a number of deadly diseases, are a greater health threat. "People have to make sure they don't fall prey to stories that are more alarming than they are factual," says George Rambo, former technical director of the National Pest Control Association and a consultant who points out that even with rising rates of bedbug infestations, the overall number remains relatively low. People who are alarmed should keep in mind that most don't react to the bites—which not that long ago were a fact of life.
Anyway, Pollack says, with time and patience, most infestations can be eliminated. "I have people who call me in tears. They're in hysterics," he says. "My response is to put things in perspective. This is not a terminal illness. Being upset is not going to kill any bedbugs."
Occasionally the critters win. Kyle Anderson tried bug bombs, obsessive vacuuming and laundering, and pleading with his landlord to get the pests under control, but nothing worked. After more than seven months of waking up with bites, he surrendered and moved.

Do Bed Bugs transmit diseases

Bradley Skierkowski asked do bed bugs trasmit diseases?

Bed bugs are not known to transmit diseases of any kind. But people have had an allergic reaction to their bites. (AP / CBS)

Feds Waking Up To Nightmare Of Bedbugs

(CBS/ AP) The federal government is waking up to what has become a growing nightmare in many parts of the country - a bed bug outbreak.

The tiny reddish-brown insects, last seen in great numbers prior to World War II, are on the rebound. They have infested college dormitories, hospital wings, homeless shelters and swanky hotels from New York City to Chicago to Washington.

They live in the crevices and folds of mattresses, sofas and sheets. Then, most often before dawn, they emerge to feed on human blood.

Faced with rising numbers of complaints to city information lines and increasingly frustrated landlords, hotel chains and housing authorities, the Environmental Protection Agency is hosting its first-ever bed bug summit on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The venue - the Sheraton Crystal City Hotel in Arlington - has had no reported bed bug problems, according to a popular online registry, so at least conference participants will be sleeping tight.

"The problem seems to be increasing and it could definitely be worse in densely populated areas like cities, although it can be a problem for anyone," said Lois Rossi, director of the registration division in the EPA's Office of Pesticide Programs.

One of the problems, according to researchers and the pesticide industry, is that there are few chemicals on the market approved for use on mattresses that are effective at reducing bed bug numbers.

The EPA, out of concern for the environment and the effects on public health, has pulled many of the chemicals that were most effective in eradicating the bugs from the U.S. over the last 50 years - such as DDT - off of shelves.

Increasing international travel has also increased the chances for the bugs to hitchhike from developing countries which never eradicated them completely.

"This is a worldwide resurgence," said Dini Miller, an entomologist and bed bug expert at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, who until 2001 only saw bed bugs on microscope slides dating from the 1950s. Now she gets calls several times a day from people who are often at their wits end dealing with the problem.

"I can't tell you how many people have spent the night in their bath tubs because they are so freaked out by bed bugs," Miller said. "I get these people over the phone that have lost their marbles."

Bed bugs are not known to transmit any diseases. But people have had an allergic reaction to their bites. The insects release an anticoagulant to get blood flowing, and they also excrete a numbing agent so their bites don't often stir a victim's slumber.

In a recent review of research on the pesky critters, researchers reviewed 53 recent studies on bedbugs and their health and medical effects. The results showed that although bedbugs have been blamed for the spread of up to 40 different human diseases, there is little evidence to suggest they are carriers of human disease.

Those often hardest hit are the urban poor, Miller said. These are people who cannot afford to throw out all their belongings or take the sanitation measures necessary to rid them of the problem.

Because the registration of new pesticides takes so long, one thing the EPA could do is to approve some pesticides for emergency use, Miller said.

The pesticide industry will be pushing for federal funding for research into alternative solutions, such as heating, freezing or steaming the bugs out of bedrooms.

"We need to have better tools," said Greg Baumann, a senior scientist at the National Pest Management Association. "We need EPA to consider all the options for us."
Source: (CBS / AP)