Please help me! Bugs at office... are they at home?(9 posts)
I'm hoping someone can please help me. I am seriously at my wits end, crying constantly, and think I'm going nuts! I really need some advice & support. Here is my story... please tell me what you think:
As far back as mid-June, I had had some random mosquito bites. When I got one on my stomach in late July, it seemed weird and my husband mentioned bed bugs (we live in NYC). I freaked when I realized how many bites I'd had over time. All looking like random mosquitos. I wrote them down and realized I had been getting several every week. I was convinced that we had bed bugs even though my husband had no bites (know that can be the case). Bought mattress covers, isolated bed by pulling it from wall and using double-sided carpet tape. Bites continued.
Fast forward one month to late August, it gets confirmed that my OFFICE has them... specifically the area where I sit. I realize this must be where I was getting bit. (It's sorta sick but I was almost relieved to realize I wasn't crazy.) Since the announcement, I am careful to isolate my bag and strip when I get home but I am so worried I have unknowingly brought a bug home, especially in the months before hand, and am an infestation waiting to happen.
When I found out that our office had them, I TORE my apartment apart --- checking (already protected) mattresses & isolated bed, all picture frames, taking apart furniture & lamps, vaccuuming couch, washing sheets/comforter, vacuuming, caulking, etc. Found NOTHING. literally nothing. There are some cracks in my floorboards where I suppose they could be, but aside from that, nothing. Well, actually found some carpet beetles & carpet beetle larvae... which could be giving me a reaction... but we can assume my bites are really bed bugs b/c I'm exposed at work.
The PCO did a first treatment a few days ago at work and will return in two weeks. I am STILL getting bites. Today I had my scariest set... up til now they have been just single mosquitos, but today I had 3-4 in a row on my butt. I was sitting in a skirt on my chair all day (wore long pants to bed last night)..... do you think they are just from work? I literally broke down crying when I saw them tonight. I know it's irrational but I couldn't stop. I have no way of knowing where they are from.
I am so worried that:
1 -- we have them at home... a light infestation ready to blow up and I just have to "wait" before I see evidence. No bites on hubby but doesn't mean anything. How long before we would see evidence??
2 -- the PCO will be ineffective at work and I'll continue getting bitten indefinitely (ahhh I cannot explain how torturous it is to go in and sit there and know there might be one on you).... especially if an unknowing coworker is bringing them in... and I will eventually bring them home.
What do you think? Is it likely I have them at home too? How can I know if I can't use bites as evidence and I have no other evidence? Do you think they will stop at work eventually? I'm honestly in tears about this. Please help me fellow bedbuggers I need some sanity.
Hey so I totally understand your reaction. I am terrified of them myself.
All I can say is that it sounds like you have done the detective work for looking for signs at home.
They have detection systems and monitors that you can get to collect further evidence.
Also I know that multiple treatments are necessary because eggs hatch and the following treatment is necessary to kill the nymphs. So if you are still getting bitten, especially on your butt at work in a skirt, when you knew you were wearing pants last night, I think its safe to say you are getting bitten at work.
If you are scared of bringing one home like I am, invest in a Packtite to heat your clothes/bag/coat when you get in. Its $300, I can't really afford that either, but as they say, you can't place a price on peace of mind.
Packtite is key for an infestation and for preventing a new one. I will use mine forever!
That being said, research on this site and on BedBugTV (Jeff White) for monitors - there are passive (see David Cain and the climb up interceptors) and active (bed bug beacon and Nightwatch)
I have all but the nightwatch - it is $300! Monitors can really help you see if you have them. They can be hard to find until you get good at looking for them. If your infestation is light, 2 treatments may be enough. Did you bag and heat treat your clothes?
I feel for you - I got them from work also and they knew they had them but said they were treating for "dust mites" I quit! At least I know I won't be exposed there anymore!
Thank you both for writing back to me! It is so good to get a response and just reading it makes me feel better.
I didn't think of getting a packtite but that is probably a good idea. I work at a really small nonprofit with only a few dozen employees and don't make a huge salary to afford it, but by the time I figure in dry cleaning bills and just peace of mind, it might really be worth it. To save my sanity!
I'm also going to get the passive monitors. would love the beacon but just can't afford it.
Do you think the second treatment at work will kill them?? I wonder how long I will have to go about taking my clothes off when I get home. I'm terrified of getting them at home. the worst part is the not knowing...... we can't be certain that we don't already have them at home! when I'm still getting bites at home, it makes it so unclear.
ahh who knew these critters could drive me so batty. I'm a fully grown woman and these are itty bitty creepers.
Thank you again for your support!
I might see if your office would consider buying a Packtite. Then people could put their bags in a few hours before they're ready to leave work. Ditto with coats.
I'm not sure you need a Packtite yet. The only thing that would make me buy one, if I were you, would be if I was really ready to use it regularly since you live in NYC. But I've had one since January, I fly all the time, and I'm still apparently not ready to use mine on my bags when I get back from the airport. (I suspect that's because I'm a pretty solid convert in the school of regular inspection and passive monitoring. I suspect I'm sold on those partly because I had a PCO who could show me with actual bugs, nymphs, and eggs in my apartment during the infestation exactly what I'm looking for. If you have seen eggs and nymphs up close and had a PCO say tell you that yes that bit of stuff is one and no that one isn't, you're probably more confident in your ability to find them than someone who hasn't been through that.)
I like the Packtite. It's a great tool. But it is expensive, and you'd potentially have to use it very very regularly if there is a chronic infestation at work.
Not everyone will stick to that.
You might consider hiring a good PCO who knows bed bugs to come in and inspect your apartment, if you think that's going to give you some peace of mind.
Realistically? I think you'd be seeing signs at home if you'd brought a hitch hiker home. Bed bugs are good hiders, but they do start to show signs at a certain point.
Reading these boards, you'd think that the damned things were like tribbles with velcro: that if you brush up against one you inevitably take them home.
I actually suspect it's a lot harder to bring a hitch hiker home than people think. It's just that if you do, you're in for such a battle, that it pays to be extra super careful not to bring one home, you know?
I had bed bugs, had heat treatment, went months with no signs, and then developed a series of bites that I was sure were bed bug bites.
My residence was still under warranty, so the PCO came out to inspect and found nothing.
Our best guess? I got bitten by bed bugs at a movie theater in Orange County that I don't normally go to. I went there once because a friend's film was playing there for one week only. i'd wanted to see it during an LA film fest, but that was in the middle of the bed bug infestation months before, and I just couldn't. This was my last chance to see it before it left the area, so I went even though the theater was hugely out of my way (like it was a full hour drive on the freeway from where I lived.) which is why I hadn't been there before.
It was the summer, so I wasn't in either of my offices much. I was still traumatized from bed bugs, so I hadn't been going anywhere besides home, work, and the gym. I hadn't even shopped anywhere new, so chances are, that's where it happened.
I never got any other bites, and I've been bug free since.
Also, before I realized it was bed bugs? I went to about three conferences, where, like you do, I shared hotel rooms with folks. I had a total of five roommates at three conferences in the period of time between the bites first appearing (I thought they were fleas or mosquitos) and figuring out it was bed bugs. I'd stayed at the home of one and was terrified I'd spread the bugs to them.
Despite sharing hotel rooms and having my luggage in their homes in some cases, none of them developed a bed bug infestation even though I hadn't taken any precautions (since I didn't realize I had bed bugs.)
I'm not suggesting that you don't take precautions. Knowing what I know now--how expensive and tough to get rid of these bugs are--I count myself really lucky (even if I was clearly free of any intent or even conscious denial).
I am telling you this because often it can seem like if you're exposed, you're doomed to a life of bed bug war.
If the workplace is getting treated effectively, that's a good sign.
Take the precautions you've likely read about in the FAQ on the subject. Get yourself some big ziplocks to store your home stuff in while you're at work if it's stuff that can't be washed.
Consider the Packtite if you think having one will give you some peace of mind and/or if your work clothes cannot stand up to repeated washing/drying in high heat.
But don't despair. The battle against bed bugs can be won. And the fact that you haven't seen signs at home--as long as you trust your inspection techniques--is totally good news.
In fact, if you don't trust your inspection technique, it might be worth the workplace's time to get a PCO in to teach you guys how to inspect. If they educate their employees, they might decrease their chances of reinfestation from someone at home.
A non-profit might be more amenable to that than a big slick corporation.
Hang in there.
Thank you buggyinsocal! you have exactly hit it on the head -- I read these forums and I feel doomed. I get convinced that not only do I have bedbugs but they are superhuman, unbeatable creatures who will destroy my life. I picture them clinging on to my pants as I leave work, taking two subways & a 10 minute walk home with me, then somehow escaping right before I strip out of my work clothes and put them in a plastic bag.
I know they are resilient and I know they are good hiders, but I guess I have to be rational and realize that just because they are at work does not mean they are automatically at my house. Your stories about sharing hotel rooms made me feel better.
It's just the NOT KNOWING that kills me. I hope by now I'd be seeing signs. I'm not sure how long it takes before it becomes big enough to see signs???
I think my inspection was pretty good.... I spent about 5 hours tearing stuff apart and looking for stains. You never know though with an older apartment, older floorboards = little hiding spots, etc. I think though that I will wait until at least the second treatment at work before I do anything like hire a PCO for an inspection.
The other hard part is that I second guess everything -- I noticed some little black smudges on the inside of my white tank top this morning (that I wore to bed). I'm pretty sure it's from when I pulled it on over my head last, before I took my mascara off. Normally, would never notice that.... but now, I'm obsessing over the "what if".
Anyway, thanks for your words! I cannot wait for this workday to be over so I don't have to sit here waiting like a human target.
Great answer by buggyinsocal.
I had similar experiences to buggyinsocal before I knew I had bedbugs and I also fortunately didn't spread them.
I think sealing up your purse and tote in a ziploc bag while you are at work would be very helpful for now. You might want to have "work shoes" that you wear at work and "home shoes" that you wear to work, take off and seal in a ziploc, and only put them on when you are about to return home. Also, don't wear pants with cuffs.
Great advice from parakeets. As someone who hosts infected areas I literally live like a 'bag lady' during these periods.
Having hosted many times over the last 3 years I haven't as yet had an infestation in my own home. I simply take a roll of black plastic sacks with me and place my bag and clothes in these whilst in the property.
One sack for my bag which has clean clothes in and one sack for my laundry and pyjamas.
This system has not failed my yet!!
It's a lot more cost efficient than investing in a packtite unit of my own.
I also have a passive monitor on my bed at home which I check regularly and I do a regular thorough deep clean of my bed to ensure I remain bed bug free.
If you're being bitten on a regular basis at work then may I suggest you take an iron supplement, this will also help you feel better in yourself, as iron deficiency does cause one to feel low and have mood swings.
> Reading these boards, you'd think that the damned things were like tribbles with velcro: that if you brush up against one you inevitably take them home.
I love this!
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