Bed bug bites after child gets new mattress

by nobugsonme on April 24, 2010 · 2 comments

in bed bug treatment, bed bugs, michigan, not a bed bug

A new story from Fox 2 in Detroit concerns a Woodhaven, Michigan family that believes they got bed bugs from a mattress they bought for their son.

Little Danny was itching, but his four-year-old twin brother, Kyle, was not. Their parents bought them new mattresses and beds from the Value City Furniture Store in Taylor that were delivered on April 13. However, only Danny slept in the new beds and his skin eruptions grew worse.

We asked Danny’s mother what she thought when she first saw the sores. She answered, “I thought he had the chicken pox at first because the scabs on him.”

Danny was brought to his pediatrician.

“Three doctors looked at him and told me that he had bed bug bites,” the mother said. “I said, ‘What,’ and she (said), ‘Did you get him (a) new (bed) and (mattress)?” I said, ‘Yes, I did.'”

The family wants the company to pay for bed bug treatment; they have already been offered a new mattress by the store, though the company is not willing to do more until they’ve investigated the case further.

There are some pieces here that warrant further analysis.

First of all, doctors cannot diagnose bed bug bites with any certainty.

The appearance of the suspected bed bug bites in the video below is typical, and doctors may suspect bed bugs; however, they can’t be absolutely sure based on the bites’ appearance alone.

It is likely the Southeastern Michigan region is seeing a good number of bed bug cases, and these three doctors who agreed that “bed bugs” were the correct diagnosis may be seeing these symptoms a lot.  Bed bugs may be a fair guess.  There are certainly cases where people get them from newly purchased mattresses.

In order to be certain you have bed bug, you have to find evidence of bed bugs: bed bugs, cast skins, or fecal stains.  It’s important that the news media convey this to the public.

Secondly, there’s a rather strange bug — which is not a bed bug — that is featured in the news story (the implication is that this is one of the “bed bugs” the family found in the plastic on the mattress).

The dark, articulated bug pictured below and shown moving in the video in the plastic is not a bed bug.

This is a still shot of that bug (you can see in the video it is clearly one bug, not two):

mystery bug

The bug is horizontal in that photo.  The parts hanging down are legs.

You’ll see this is clearly not one or more bed bugs if you watch the video below.  (Click here to view video on if you’re reading the feed.)

(If embedded video does not work for you, click here to see the video on the Fox 2 website.)

I want to be clear: I am not suggesting this family does not have bed bugs. It’s fully possible — though not clear from the story — that they have found definitive evidence besides the skin reaction, and that they have had a bed bug sample identified.

If they have not had a bed bug sample identified, it is very common for people to have bed bugs and have a hard time finding them, and at the same time, to find other bugs.  The presence of other bugs does not rule out the presence of bed bugs.  If a few were brought in around ten days ago, it might be hard to find them and there may not be a lot of evidence at this point.

However, it is important to verify for certain that you are dealing with bed bugs (since there are other possible causes for itchy welts).

It’s also important for the news media to learn what bed bugs look like, so that people watching a story like this can come away educated about what to watch for.

If the family did have samples of bed bugs to show to the news team, it is particularly irresponsible that what was broadcast was clearly not a bed bug.

1 lou April 25, 2010 at 4:35 am

Looks like a scolytid beetle. Actually now I believe these are classified as a subfamily (Scolytinae) of weevils, Family Curculionidae. They’re called bark or engraver beetles due to their boring or mining behavior under the bark of typically dead, dying, or sick trees, although common pest species infest living trees.

2 nobugsonme April 25, 2010 at 5:53 pm

Thanks, Lou!

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