Could I have picked up bugs - not sure what to do now?(4 posts)
I have been travelling around the USA for 6 weeks now with no problems or signs of bugs anywhere. However yesterday after leaving the hostel in Washington DC I'd been at for 5 days I noticed 3 small bites on my neck - in a line unfortunately - that became more itchy and red as the day progressed. I didn't give it a lot of thought until last night, I did a bit of googling and I'm worried they could be bed bug bites. I checked over my pack and didn't see any signs of bugs, and I haven't had any new bites come up this morning but I'm just not sure what the odds are something has come with me and what kind of precautions I should be taking to avoid spreading them to the next places I'll be staying at.
I still have 3 more months before I go home, I can't afford to replace my bags and all my clothes - I'm going to wash and dry everything when I get to a laundromat tomorrow and pray that my clothes aren't ruined by the hot dryer. I'm not sure what I should do with things that can't go in a dryer like shoes, my pack, sports equipment etc. Is it even worth washing/drying/potentially ruining my clothes when many of the things in my bag are going to remain untreated like a leather handbag and a laptop case?
I'm really not sure whether I should be panicking over 3 little bites or carrying on as normal, any advice is appreciated.
Being bit by a BB does not necessarily mean you're now carrying hitchhikers in your gear. Conversely, not showing bites does not mean there are no bugs hitching a ride on your stuff at some point in your travels (as not everyone reacts to bites and not everyone reacts right away and not all "bites" are from BB).
Still, some precautions can help you, now and/or before you arrive somewhere you care about. The more you travel, the "better" your odds of encountering BB at some point (but you're seeing the world, so accept it as a manageable hazard). First, check our travel FAQ.
Some tips from me:
You don't need extreme heat to kill BB and eggs. They're dead if you get them to ~125F. Key is to allow a little extra temperature and time to penetrate every last possible hiding place in your goods. Washing is not strictly required, but is recommended so you don't set in stains and odors. So, for washables, a wash (warm temperature is not crucial) and thorough dry on medium or high, plus 10-20 extra minutes. If you want to get fancy, you can check temperature with an instant read food or infrared thermometer. Items that shouldn't get wet can just take a spin in the dryer, for far less time than you would need for wet. You can do nylon/fabric gear this way. Finished leather things should be wrapped securely in a pillowcase or similar (and allow extra time to compensate), to avoid marking up the dryer. Also, you can bag your treated and/or "suspect" items (any plastic bag that'll fit), but label which is which.
Some of the places you go may have equipment for debugging your gear, like a PackTite or other heat chamber.
Where's your next destination. Perhaps you can find someone here on bedbugger.com who lives in that destination and has a PackTite and can loan you use of that item, even if you don't actually stay with that person.
If your next destination happens to be NYC perhaps I can be the one to loan you use of a PackTite since I do have one, and also I have a tiny guest room you could stay in for one night anyway.
Thanks for your replies. My next destination is Orlando, FL so I will have to pass up your kind offer in NYC. I bought some ziplock bags and extra washing powder today so I think when I get to my next hotel I'll go straight to the laundry to get everything washed and pray no more bites appear.
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