If increasing reports of bed bug infestations in hotel rooms and commercial aircraft weren’t enough to make one’s skin crawl, a new warning about pesticide-resistant bed bug super-strains might just have business travelers and tourists a bit more vigilant about checking mattresses and seat cushions for unwelcome creepy-crawly intruders.
The very thought of encountering bed bugs can cause anxiety in even the most seasoned travelers. From guests at luxury hotels to air travelers on one of the world’s most trusted airlines, it seems as if no one is immune from exposure to the blood-sucking pests.
Now, a new report from the Telegraph, is raising the alarm that an “epidemic” of pesticide-resistant bed bugs has reached North America and parts of Europe. According to some experts, the itchy problem is going to get much worse before it gets better.
“They have been bad for some time here in the US,” University of Kentucky entomologist and bed bug researcher Michael Potter told the newspaper. “In Europe and the UK it has been getting progressively worse. It is becoming more difficult to kill them. The bugs are becoming incredibly resistant and we don’t have the potent, long-lasting products that were so effective years ago.”
Potter says that a traveler’s best defense against the parasitic pests is being aware of potential infestations before it’s too late. Unfortunately, most airline passengers and overnight guests are less than diligent about inspecting their temporary accommodations.
“People have also become less vigilant than they used to be,” he explained. “Back in the day, they knew to check beds when traveling or after people paid them a visit. Folks are so busy these days, bed bug prevention often takes a back seat to other pressing issues.”
Famed Southern California “bed bug lawyer” Brian Virag said the increase in bed bug incidents has been good for business, but is becoming a nightmare for the traveling public. The former criminal defense attorney now almost exclusively represents victims of bed bug infestations.
“Over the past eight years I have fixed my focus on bed bug exposure and it is getting worse – it is an epidemic,” Virag told the Telegraph’s David Millward. “Now one in five people have either been exposed to bed bugs or know somebody who has … I have had countless cases of people who have had an allergic reaction. Scratching has led to bleeding and then scarring. There has been some really really bad stuff, even bed bugs harboring in people’s ears and laying eggs.”