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Christmas travel and gifts - how to avoid risk of spreading?

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  1. nervousaboutbedbugs

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Dec 23 2009 10:06:54
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    I know the topic of Christmas/holiday travel has been covered a lot recently, but I was hoping for some additional input regarding Christmas gifts.

    Most of my family returns to my parents' house for Xmas. We planned on staying home to avoid the risk, but my mother told my 3 year old all about it so now we're stuck. I'm drying and bagging clothes to bring with us, but how do we handle the presents? For the most part, they've all stayed in the back of the car and haven't been brought into the house. A lot of the items are little and would probably fit in the packtite. Should I bring them in, wrap them, Packtite them? Or should I assume that most things left in the back of a car are probably safe?

    I should add that our infestation, if there is one, is very small. Although we've had mystery bites and dog hits, no real evidence has been found. However, my entire extended family is coming, and I would HATE to be responsible for passing this along to 5 or 6 different houses.

    Thanks for any input!

  2. buggyinsocal

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Dec 23 2009 12:54:52
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    No advice, but I can tell you this.

    I discovered bed bugs in my apartment in mid June 2008.

    I'm pretty sure I picked them up at a hotel in March 2008. (There was what I thought was a tick in the bed. Now I know better.)

    Between March of 2008 and June of 2008, I did the following:

    In March, at the hotel in question, I shared a room with two other people. One of those people slept in the same bed I did. None of us took any bed bug precautions because none of us had heard of them.

    In May, I traveled to another hotel for another convention. I again shared a hotel room with two other people. I again shared a bed with one of them. We also traveled on the same bus from an airport in another city, so our bags were next to each others bags then.

    In early June, I traveled to another city (on the east coast) for another convention. My friend picked me up at the airport and drove me in her car to another city. We shared a hotel room. After the convention, we went back to her home where I stayed overnight before flying back home.

    I think there was also a short trip to northern California where I stayed in the home of another friend in the middle of all that.

    (One of the reasons it took me so long to figure this whole thing out was, obviously, between March and June I traveled a lot--witness the four trips, three of which were by plane.)

    When I found the bugs, found out what they were, and then found out what a terrible pest bed bugs are, my stomach sank. If I had exposed any of my friends and their homes to this, I would have felt terrible.

    I called every, single one. Told them what was going on. Told them how to inspect.

    No one had one.

    Now, I'm not suggesting that people with infestations not take precautions. As soon as I knew what was going on, I went into high containment mode. I followed all the protocols zealously.

    What I do want to point out is that it's got to be, statistically, a lot less likely that you will spread the bugs than we think it is. All those people ::counts::--all seven of them--shared living space with me in the middle of an active infestation for several days each time, and taking no precautions at all, none of them got infested.

    Now, I think my infestation was a little atypical in that with all that travel, the bugs settled quite comfortably and obviously into fabrics around and on my bed. They didn't hide their harborages at all. I don't think they ever really ended up in the living room of my apartment. My cat and I slept on the bed often enough to provide them plenty of food--even while I was gone.

    But, still. One of the things about bed bugs is that since they're difficult to detect, it's easy to get hyper vigilant. (I know. I still look askance at fabric chairs in public places.)

    No one here can tell you what to do to be 100% sure the presents don't take bugs with them to other places.

    But it's also important to remember that as long as you're being really scrupulous about the protocols you take, chances are you won't spread them. Nothing you do will ever reduce the chances down to 0%. Living life is risky in many different ways.

    At the same time, despite the risk, I think we all have to learn to live with the fact that we'll never reduce our chances down to 0%. The trick is to figure out what level of risk we're okay with taking; and everyone's level is a little different. I tell the story about the people I traveled with not getting bed bugs despite my taking no precautions not to encourage risky behavior but to remind people that as much as it's true that the risk can never be reduced to zero, the risk is never 100% either.

  3. twitchyscratchy

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Dec 23 2009 15:28:20
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    well, my solution was depressingly simple. neither my family, nor my partner's family wants us around for christmas, and in any case, we're too broke (thanks to bedbugs, sick cat and minimum wage) to buy presents for anyone, so we don't have to worry about that.

    this will be the moping-est christmas ever.

  4. buggedout16

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    Posted 9 years ago
    Wed Dec 23 2009 15:34:25
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    I will tell you what I did; I ordered everything online to be shipped directly to the house where everyone will be for Christmas; because like you I don't want to spread this to several different homes. I realize that you can't do that at this point. Unlike you, however, I have not had a great inspection and have no idea if they are in my car, or what other places in my apartment besides my bedroom, so I don't really have any definite "safe" places to keep things. (I've seen one live bug; no other definite evidence; possible fecal spots in an old desk drawer in my bedroom, several possible bites but who knows with that- just to give you an idea). I tend to be paranoid about life in general anyway, haha. Personally I would Packtite what I could (remember to take batteries out of any electronics), and just inspect carefully what I couldn't. Take that coming from someone very paranoid. I think your chances are good not to spread them. Good luck and I hope you have a wonderful Christmas...


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