Bedbugs are showing up everywhere—in five-star hotels, buses, and in private residences—and some locations have been harder hit than others.
Although not known to transmit disease, their bites can cause itchy welts, and some people may experience more serious skin irritation.
About the size and shape of a small apple seed, bedbugs can hide in the tiniest of cracks and come out to feed at night.
Black or brown spots on a mattress, sheets, bed frame, or walls are signs of a bedbug infestation.
Bedbug eggs (which are usually laid in cracks) are white, about one millimetre long and almost impossible to see on most surfaces.
Here are some tips to avoid bringing bedbugs home when traveling:
• Don’t bring your pillow with you.
• Thoroughly inspect your hotel room before allowing children or pets in.
• Place your luggage on a tile floor (like in the bathroom), away from any upholstered (soft) surfaces. After inspecting the luggage stand straps, keep your luggage on the stand and pull the stand slightly away from the wall (instead of unpacking your belongings and placing them in drawers).
• Slowly lift up each corner of the mattress and examine all crease and tufts of the mattress and box spring. Check all the bed linens, behind the headboard, and any items near the bed such as an alarm clock.
• Use a flashlight to inspect the inside of the closet, paying special attention to any cracks.
• Place your shoes in an open area and do not store anything under the bed.
If you find signs of bedbugs, notify the front desk and ask for another room or stay somewhere else.
If you change rooms in the same hotel, make sure your new room is not next to, above or below the possibly infested room. Inspect your new room.
When you return home:
• Before bringing your luggage in, place it on a hard, light-coloured surface, and check it carefully.
• Unpack your clothing and inspect personal items, including your hairbrush and cosmetic case.
• Wash all clothing and fabric items in hot water, even if you didn’t wear them.
• Place non-washable items in the clothes dryer on the highest heat for 30 minutes.
• Vacuum your luggage. Discard the vacuum bag in a sealed garbage bag right away. For a bagless vacuum cleaner, empty the dust collector into a garbage bag and throw out the bag immediately. Afterwards, wash any vacuum attachments you used and the dust collector in hot water with detergent.
For assistance in dealing with bedbug infestations, contact your local public health office.
Up-to-date information on how to prevent and deal with bedbugs is posted at www.healthycanadians.gc.ca.