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Bed bugs: introduced parasites again pose a health threat


Blood-sucking bed bugs back in Germany

A few years ago, experts assumed that the blood-sucking bed bugs were actually eradicated in Germany. However, the number of reported cases has increased in recent years. Some pest control even speak of a real flood. Travelers often bring the bed bugs home from Asia or Eastern Europe without even knowing about them. The parasites then multiply rapidly. Lydia Böhm from the Federal Association of Pest Control reports that there is a frightening upward trend in the use of bed bugs nationwide. Many people would not know bed bugs. They only become aware of symptoms.

In Berlin, according to the industry association, the exterminators are currently deploying about 16 missions per week for bed bugs in apartments and hotel rooms. This represents a new peak in the capital and means a fourfold increase in the numbers. As the name suggests, the small crawling animals prefer to nest in beds, where they hide during the day and become active at night to suck blood. The red-brown bed bugs are usually around half a centimeter long, but can swell significantly when fully soaked.

In the event of a bite, the bedbugs release saliva into the wound, which usually leads to considerable skin irritation in the area of ​​the puncture sites. At first glance, the stitches of the bed bugs arranged in a row often appear as an itchy rash. The itching usually lasts for several days. If there is a sensitive reaction to the saliva, extensive inflammation of the skin can also form.

Bed bugs as a holiday souvenir

According to the pest control, bed bugs are comfortable wherever they can find a warm place to sleep with blood to suck. This could also affect luxury hotels and villas. "The other day we even had it on a luxury cruise ship," reports Lydia Böhm. Often the bugs' eggs would be dragged unnoticed under the soles of shoes or stuck to suitcases. In this way, many travelers bring them with them from abroad. According to the board of the Berlin Pest Control Association, Mario Heising, bed bugs are often a problem for the “beautiful and rich because they travel so much”.

According to the industry expert, exterminators are also increasingly receiving calls from travelers on vacation who have been confronted with bed bugs and who do not want to bring them home. In such cases, the suitcases of those affected would be picked up at the airport and then frozen, since the animals die at temperatures below minus 18 degrees Celsius. The travelers themselves are advised to put on fresh clothing.

Not only when you return from a trip abroad can bed bugs come into your home as unwanted souvenirs, but it is not uncommon for the parasites to be brought into your own four walls with used furniture or antiques, reports the Federal Association of Pest Control.

Ignorance and shame promote the spread of bed bugs

Regarding the spread of bed bugs in Germany, Karolina Bauer-Dubau, biologist at the Berlin Tropical Institute, explained to dpa that she received 32 inquiries about bed bugs in 2000, while in 2013 the number rose to 251. However, there are no official statistics on the spread of bed bugs, since there is no obligation to report the occurrence of the parasites.

According to the expert, the renaissance of bed bugs is on the one hand a problem of ignorance, on the other hand the topic is also filled with shame.

Bed bugs are often associated with poor hygiene, but this is completely unfounded today. As a result, many of those affected have to wait too long before getting professional help, even after the culprit has been identified. "It is often several weeks. The next generation has already hatched, ”says the biologist. So far, there is no evidence in Germany of diseases that are transmitted by bed bugs, but it is known from South America that this is quite possible (for example, transmission of Q fever by bed bugs). In theory, a hepatitis B infection can also be transmitted through the animal's faeces if it reaches the puncture sites, Bauer-Dubau continues.

Contact a pest control if bed bugs are suspected

If itchy pustules and wheals appear on the skin in the morning after getting up, this can be an indication of bed bugs. However, the tiny crawling animals can hardly be spotted during the day, as they are hidden in crevices, mattresses, crevices or even behind pictures and wallpapers. If bed bugs are suspected, an intensive search for the parasites is worthwhile.

You can use a flashlight and magnifying glass to find the animals, provided you know where to look. In addition, if there are any indications of the parasites, it is advisable to consult a professional pest control agent in a timely manner in order to avoid further spread of the bed bugs. (sb, fp)

Author and source information

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