A bedbug problem that really bites

Share this content:
John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
John O'Connor, editorial director, McKnight's Long-Term Care News
Bedbugs are small, reddish brown creatures. In addition to beds, these smaller-scale vampires can live in picture frames, doormats or almost any crevice they can crawl into. And by all accounts, their numbers are on the rise again.

While the exact cause for the ongoing bedbug resurgence is not known, experts at the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention have suggested several contributing factors. These include the bugs' increased resistance to pesticides, more travel, lack of knowledge about the bugs and the decline or elimination of pest control programs at many public health agencies.

The Department of Entomology at the University of Kentucky determined that nursing homes account for about 18% of all bedbug infestations. Facilities tend to be ideal breeding grounds for several reasons. One is that the little critters are attracted to the heat and chemicals emitted by residents. In addition, residents tend to stay in bed for prolonged periods of time and live in close proximity to one another, so the risk of a rapid spread from one single infestation to an epidemic is serious.

For long-term care professionals, bedbugs pose headaches on several fronts. The most obvious issue is the health risks they pose to residents, staff and anyone else in the building. Skin rashes, allergic symptoms and psychological effects all have been linked to bedbug bites. Moreover, their presence can spark complaints about sanitary conditions and undermine a facility's reputation. And like any other problem that can be tied to a long-term care facility, they can invite lawsuits.

If your facility is dealing with a bedbug problem, calling a professional pest control company may be your fastest option. And according to the American Society for Healthcare Environmental Services, there are other steps that you can and should be taking as well:

* Check mattresses – Conduct a visual inspection of bedding as it is brought in for evidence of bedbugs.

* Require mattress and box springs to be encased – An inexpensive synthetic covering on mattresses and especially box springs prevents bedbugs from reaching the fibrous interior or hiding along edges or under tags. For pests that have already found harborage, the encasement prevents their escape and access to food sources.

* Perform an inspection of incoming furniture – Much like bedding, couches, plush chairs and other furniture can easily harbor bedbugs.

* Utilize monitoring technology – Equipment that uses CO2, heat and a kairomone can attract bedbugs out of hiding within two hours. This technology is currently cost-prohibitive for private use but it is available through some pest management professionals.

* Bedbug-sniffing dogs – Trained dogs are among the most effective detectors of the presence of beg bugs. Many pest management companies are now utilizing these trained canines to help identify infestations.

If you are dealing with this problem or suspect it might exist, the steps above can help. And the sooner you take action, the better. After all, it's your facility. There's no reason to let the bedbugs bite.

close

Next Article in Daily Editors' Notes

Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editors' Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news and issues. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor, Editor James M. Berklan, Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman and Staff Writer Emily Mongan.

    ALL MCKNIGHT'S BLOGS