Infectious Disease Epidemiology Program

Bed Bugs

Bed bugs are small insects that feed on human blood. They are usually active at night when people are sleeping. Adult bed bugs have flat, rusty-red-colored oval bodies. About the size of an apple seed, they are big enough to be easily seen, but often hide in cracks in furniture, floors, or walls. When bed bugs feed, their bodies swell and become brighter red. They can live for several months without food or water.

Bed bugs do not transmit disease, but they are a nuisance. Infestations are very difficult and expensive to control. It is important to combine insecticide treatments with environmental measures such as laundering bed linens, vacuuming rooms, and cleaning mattresses.  Insecticides, if used, should be applied by a professional exterminator.

Bed bug bites usually cause small, itchy red bumps on the surface of the skin. Bites should be kept clean to prevent infection. 

Unlike head lice, bed bugs do not live on a person. However, they can hitchhike from one place to another in backpacks, clothing, luggage, books and other items.

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Pest Management

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