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Are Bedbugs an Epidemic?

Posted: October 12th, 2010 | Author: | | Tags: , | 2 Comments »

The Center for Disease Control has a history on the term “epidemic

In the second half of the 20th century, epidemic was also applied to noninfectious diseases, as in cancer epidemic or epidemic of obesity. The extension of the meaning to noninfectious causes refers to a disease that affects a large number of people, with a recent and substantial increase in the number of cases. This semantic extension of epidemic also concerns nonmedical events; the term is used by journalists to qualify anything that adversely affects a large number of persons or objects and propagates like a disease, such as crack cocaine or computer viruses.

In the case of bedbugs, it is not hard numbers that give us the impression that we are experiencing an epidemic.  Rather, it is the rapid increase of cases reported. 

In a national survey conducted for Pest Management Professional, University of Kentucky entomologist Michael Potter found, “A whopping 91% of respondents reported their organizations had encountered bed bug infestations in the past two years. Only 37% said they encountered bed bugs more than five years ago.”

Bedbugs had all but disappeared following the second world war with the introduction of DDT.  And now, like so many bad, blood-sucking pennies, they’re baaaaaack. In large urban areas it’s not uncommon for companies to field 100 to 150 bed bug complaints a week, according to a National Pest Management Association survey.

Last year bed bug infestations were reported in every state in the U.S., and reports are increasing exponentially each year. Scientists have not determined a single cause for the sudden bed bug proliferation, but cite a combination of factors, including the increased ease of international travel, lack of potent insecticides, and discovery of pesticide-resistant bed bugs.

Due to their extremely effective reproductivity, A few bed bugs can lead to a major infestation in just a short time. And it is well documented how craftily the wee fellows transport themselves around in your clothes and luggage, and spread throughout buildings through air ducts and electrical conduits.  “This is a serious issue,” Potter recently told the New York Times. “This will be the pest of the 21st century.”

Once we recognize the severity of the problem that is beneath our beds, it is important to put a face on the epidemic.  A dirty, dirty face.