Unfortunately, though, it’s looking to be a fact. According to several reports from local media, bedbugs have been found in both the Regional Medical Center and the Red Cardinal Inn in Madisonville.
Though this seems to be one of the first times that the troublesome insects have been seen in our area, hospital staff have already taken action and called in the assistance of exterminators to solve the potentially large-scale issue. According to an RMC spokesman, the critical care waiting room would be the main focus for the exterminators. In addition the spokesman claimed that no patient rooms were affected.
As for the Red Cardinal Inn, the Hopkins County Health Department has claimed that only one room at the motel had any sign of bedbugs and that it would be treated as soon as possible.
But what threat do bedbugs actually pose to our community and how could they have gotten here?
According to the New York Times, “the bedbug is a nocturnal, blood-sucking insect that is making a comeback in urban housing across North America.” In fact, the Times states that complaints regarding the appearance of bedbugs in rented apartments more than doubled last year and are on target to reach a record this year in New York City.
What’s worse, is that Michael F. Potter, an Urban Entomologist at the University of Kentucky and an authority on bedbug studies, told the New York Times that the pests are poised to join the infamous “ranks of cockroaches and rats as the pre-eminent household pests in the country.”
“This is one serious issue,” said Potter. “This will be the pest of the 21st century — no question about it.”
The common bedbug is a flat, reddish-brown, and elliptically-shaped wingless insect and can be up to three-sixteenths of an inch in length. The female bedbug can produce 5 eggs on a daily basis and several hundred over its lifetime. At room temperature, the sticky clumps of eggs hatch in 7 to 14 days into tiny nymphs no bigger than a speck of dust. The nymphs go through five main stages, taking nourishment from blood each time before they molt into full maturity.
For the most part, common bedbugs are active at night, with a spike in activity around 3 or 4am. With an attraction to warmth and carbon dioxide, they pierce the skin, inject a natural anesthetic to numb the area, and then proceed to withdraw blood for about 5 minutes on their host before retreating to safe place. Though the common bedbug eats every 7-10 days, some have reportedly survived over a year without a meal. Fortunately, though, they are not currently known to transmit diseases. However, they do leave red whelps on their hosts.
Suitcases and used furnishings, such as mattresses, are perceived to be some of the main ways by which bedbugs are introduced into an area. In addition, the New York Times reports that, “The resurgence of bedbugs has been laid to everything from increased international travel to tougher federal restrictions on the use of indoor pesticides.”
Dr. Potter, the University of Kentucky entomologist, told the Times that pesticides were an essential tool in controlling bedbugs, but added to that by stating, “We have a very, very limited arsenal of insecticides that are effective.”
In fact, that arsenal has partly been depleted because many powerful pesticides have been banned or restricted for safety reasons. For instance, one of our nation’s main bedbug deterrents, DDT, was banned in 1972.
The Times also reports that, “Nearly all exterminators fighting bedbugs use insecticides known as pyrethroids, synthetic chemicals similar to pyrethrum, a natural substance found in chrysanthemum flowers. Pyrethroids are considered fairly safe — most are over-the-counter sprays — but they should be used with caution.”
But what signs show that a bedbug infestation has occurred?
For starters, the pesky insects are known to emit a sweet, musty odor, yet it is all but impossible for human beings to register the scent. Another misconception is that bedbugs can be identified by looking for dark red blood spots on sheets, pillowcases and mattress covers. Instead, exterminators often look for tiny “tar-black speckles,” which are actually droppings made up mostly of digested blood.
While bedbugs are sensitive to sudden variations in temperature, applying heat with a hair dryer is useless in killing them. Vacuuming, a strategy recommended for pet owners trying to control fleas, might suck up some bedbugs, but a vacuum cleaner is unlikely to get into the hard-to-find crevices where bedbugs usually hide.
Overall, hiring an exterminator at the first sign of a bedbug infestation is the best way to go. Though the insects aren’t believed to carry diseases communicable to humans, they do pose both a physical and psychological threat: 1.) the idea of bedbugs crawling on you at night could cause quite an uneasy feeling; 2.) they leave behind a tapestry of red and itchy blemishes on the skin.
Though the current issue with bedbugs in our area is no where as intense as the issues seen in New York City over the past few months, it certainly isn’t anything to scoff at either. However, as the reports indicate, the problem is being dealt with by professionals and may not go any further whatsoever. So with that in mind, you can sleep easy as of right now.
As more information becomes available in regards to these issues, look to iSurf News to bring you the latest scoop.
Information provided by The New York Times and WLKY.com
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