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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Bed Bugs 

Not the sort of subject to get you yearning to travel, even writing the title made me feel itchy, but it seems that in recent years, these little sleeping companions have massively increased their population worldwide.

I was prompted to look into the problem after reading a piece by Eric Shackle, entitled 'Bed Bugs Are Bugging the World' in OhmyNews International and upon learning that there has been a notable lack of quality information available about this traveller's curse, I felt obligated to draw your attention to the Bed Bug Home Page. Yep, the little critters have made it into the virtual world as well. The website is the work of the Department of Medical Entomology, ICPMR, Westmead Hospital, Australia and they have been at the forefront of a campaign to rid us of the pests.

The big problem is that bed bugs are great travellers and are often inadvertently taken home, or transferred to other accommodation facilities, when they hitch a ride in baggage or on clothes.

Reducing the risk of spreading bed bugs in your own travels is tedious to say the least. It involves:
  • Minimising the possibility of bed bugs infesting luggage

  • A thorough inspection of the motel mattress and room for bed bugs

  • Decontamination of luggage and clothing upon returning home

The point is that on arriving at a new room, you shouldn't just throw your baggage on the bed and load your clothes into the wardrobe or draws. The baggage needs to be placed in a quarantine area such as the centre of the room, or even outside, while the room, bed, wardrobe and drawers are inspected for tell-tale signs of a bed bug infestation. Once home, baggage and clothing needs to be decontaminated by washing at high temperature or placed in the freezer. Of course, you must be careful not to contaminate the furniture in your home before baggage and clothing is decontaminated; I can see this leading to the amusing prospect of returning travellers being forced to streak along their garden path to their house.

A Code of Practice For the Control of Bed Bug Infestations is available as a PDF document and although aimed at the control of bed bug infestations in Australia, it is full of useful information that is equally relevant throughout the world.

All in all, it makes camping with your own sleeping bag an even more attractive. option.

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