The KRDO article posted at this link is innocuous enough, but do click and watch the video. There is some misleading information there.
First, Colorado Springs Code Enforcement Officer Ken Lewis tells KRDO viewers that
“If you sleep in a bed that had bed bugs, you probably won’t see the bed bugs, or feel the bed bugs, but you’ll wake up with the little red bites all over you in the morning.”
This is rather misleading, since we know that many (and some would say most) people do not have any reaction to bed bug bites and so would have no idea they were bitten by bed bugs.
In the Pest Control Presents #23 podcast linked below, Jerome Goddard tells us that 70% of people do not have a skin reaction to bed bug bites (no mark, no itching, nothing). The other 30% have varying reactions to a bed bug bite (from small bumps to large inflamed welts).
With this in mind, city officials should not be implying that members of the public will know they slept in a bed with bed bugs, because they will get a reaction to bed bug bites.
But that’s not the only misleading statement in this newscast.
Reporter Tak Landrock ends the report by saying that,
“You will have to get rid of your bedsheets, your pillows, even your mattress, in order to get rid of them.”
This is not so.
Most entomolgists tell us that discarding mattresses is usually not necessary, and in fact, can help spread bed bugs around buildings, neighborhoods, and cities. Mattresses and box springs can be carefully encased in encasements carefully desgined and tested to keep bed bugs in, or out.
Moreover, bedsheets need never be discarded, since a hot wash and dry (or even a hot dry alone, on clean dry items) will serve to kill all bed bugs and bed bug eggs present.
If the Code Enforcement Department and the news media in Colorado Springs want to help halt the spread of bed bugs in that city, they would do well to give news audiences the most accurate advice about avoiding, detecting, and getting rid of bed bugs.
Update: the journalist who wrote this article updated it on Friday to correct the information about discarding mattresses and sheets. Please see the first comment below for details.
This is the source of the statistic that 70% of people do not react to bed bug bites:
Dr. Jerome Goddard, the state medical entomologist with the Mississippi Department of Health in Jackson, Mississippi discusses the potential for bed bugs to spread diseases.