When stopping over for some rest in a pleasant guest house or hotel, be careful: inspect your mattress and bed frame thoroughly as there might be some unexpected guests in it… bed bugs!

Although numbers of bed bugs receded in the middle of the 20th century, they have recently become an increasing public health problem once again. Bed bugs are small, reddish-brown insects without wings, and their sole nutriment is the blood sipped out from warm-blooded animals.

They have an oval, flat shape that helps them find shelter in narrow places. To move, they crawl, being unable to fly away due to their condition. In fact, bed bugs are fast runners. They usually feed themselves at night, when humans and animals are asleep.

How serious: bed bugs are a nuisance but they do not transmit diseases to humans.

How likely: bed bugs are a cause of allergic responses, some people reacting from the saliva of the bug. Their bites are painless but a cause of inflammation. The main problem caused by bed bugs is therefore the itching caused by the biting. However, many people do not develop any reaction when bitten by bed bugs.

How to get it: bed bugs are found anywhere in the world. They especially favor rooms where people sleep, especially dormitories or guest rooms. You will find them in mattresses, bed frames and other related items, such as curtains or pillows. Used items are more likely to carry bed bugs, and their eggs, with them. They can sneak into your luggage and therefore travel with you to another place.

Symptoms: are the same as when bitten by a mosquito or a flea: there is a small skin lesion characterized by a red, itchy bump.

How to avoid it: regular housecleaning is the key. Vacuuming mattresses helps kill the bugs and their eggs. Licensed pest controllers should pay regular visits to the site.

How to treat it: it is important not to scratch the bites, to avoid the lesion becoming infected. In severe cases, the lesions can be cleansed with corticosteroids and antihistamines.

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