akes Up Fight Against for Bedbugs

After six decades of living nearly bedbug-free, the United States is facing a national infestation. Bedbug outbreaks have been reported in every state and in every type of neighborhood.

“The incidence of bedbug infestation has risen 500 percent in the last few years alone,” says Mehmet Oz, MD, a leading cardiac surgeon, host of the Daytime Emmy Award-winning The Dr. Oz Show, and featured health expert on The Oprah Winfrey Show. “And they’re not just in dirty hotels; they’re at the five-star ones and they’re swarming the public places you visit every day.”

Why Are We Infested With Bedbugs?

What’s going on? Are Americans failing to keep their homes and public spaces clean?

Actually, no. A common misperception about bedbugs is that they only show up in dirty homes and apartments. In fact, says Dr. Oz, “A lack of cleanliness has no relationship to the likelihood of bedbugs.”

Instead, our concern about the environment has contributed to the current scourge. Bedbugs were nearly eliminated in the United States through the use of strong pesticides. But after these pesticides were banned in the United States in the 1990s, and as international travel increased, bedbugs began to reappear, and their presence is continuing to increase rapidly.

Are Bedbug Bites Dangerous?

While most people cringe at the thought of bedbugs, there is one piece of good news about these wingless biting insects: “There is currently no evidence that they transmit infectious disease,” says Dr. Oz.

Still, when they invade a space, they multiply rapidly, and by the time you notice bites, there could be hundreds or thousands in your home. They don’t like light, which is why people generally are bitten in dark places like movie theaters or while asleep. And since the bite is painless, victims usually don’t notice until they wake up.

“Bedbugs hunt for bare patches of skin and typically inflict several clusters of bites that are lined up in a row,” explains Dr. Oz. “These bites may even go unnoticed or be mistaken for flea or mosquito bites or other types of rashes.”

Bedbug bites can be very itchy, but usually go away on their own within a week or two. Bites can be treated with an over-the-counter skin cream containing hydrocortisone and an over-the-counter oral antihistamine. Only in very rare cases has a serious allergic reaction occurred.