Make Sure College Students Don't Bring Home Uninvited Pests
CHICAGO, Nov. 10 /PRNewswire/ -- For the families of college students, Thanksgiving is the first opportunity to welcome their students back to the comforts of home after experiencing the rigors of dormitory life. But besides bringing home their dirty laundry and a revised list of "back-to-school" items, bed bug experts warn that this year students may also arrive with some unwelcome little friends.
Colleges and universities all over the country are battling a virtual bed bug epidemic. According to noted entomologist Richard Cooper from BedBugCentral.com, college dormitories are the perfect setting for these pests to feed and breed.
"Every semester students arrive at dormitories from all over the world, and it's inevitable that some of them will bring bed bugs with them when they arrive," Cooper said. "Once introduced, the stage is set for the bed bugs to spread throughout rooms and dormitories because students are living in close quarters and visit other dorm rooms regularly. Also, bringing used or second-hand furniture into dorm rooms and fraternity and sorority houses can introduce bed bugs. All of these factors combine to make the perfect storm for bed bugs to flourish."
Until recently, bed bugs were more likely to be introduced by students from abroad -- where bedbugs remain a common scourge. But with a growing number of American homes infested, the bugs are now as likely as not to come from middle-class homes throughout the United States.
In recent years, the problem of bed bugs in college dorms has become anything but isolated. Research conducted by the National Pest Management Association (NPMA) finds that bed bug reports have increased 71 percent between 2001 and 2005. This fall, SUNY Potsdam (one of the State University of New York's 64 geographically dispersed campuses and home to about 3,500 undergraduates) sounded the alarm when bed bugs were discovered in one of its dorms. Workers at Ohio State University had to treat 114 rooms after bed bugs were discovered in one of its dormitories.
Other schools experiencing severe infestations include the University of Florida, Texas A&M, UC Berkeley and Columbia University, where some freshmen were evacuated from their rooms for housing services to fumigate.
Adult bed bugs resemble an apple seed in appearance. And while adult bed bugs are about one-fifth of an inch in length and visible to the naked eye, bed bug nymphs are only 1/32 inch long, translucent and very hard to spot.
Bed bugs are nocturnal and feed strictly on blood. Although they do not transmit diseases, they can cause itchy welts with their bites. Waking up with small, red welts is one tell-tale sign. Another is spotting tiny black or reddish-brown spots on your sheets.
Experts say that students should check the mattresses in their dorm rooms for signs of bed bugs, by looking in the folds and seams of their mattresses. Bed bugs can also be spotted by the black fecal material they leave behind. In addition to inspecting the mattress, the box spring and areas around them, students should also look at the headboard and the bed frame itself. Dorm residents who detect signs of an infestation, or wake up with welts, should notify a resident advisor and ask to be moved to an alternate room that is not adjacent to the suspected infested room.
Getting rid of bed bugs is no easy task. However, bed bug proof mattress and box spring encasements can go a long way to deterring the insects. One of the leading bedding protectors in the world is Protect-A-Bed(R) (http://www.protectabed.com), a product used by pest control companies throughout the United States. It utilizes a proprietary Bug Lock(R) 3-sided zipper system and AllerZip(R) seal to offer complete protection against bed bugs, creating a healthy and comfortable sleep environment. Until the AllerZip encasement was developed, infested mattresses and box springs had to be thrown out - but that is no longer the case.
So this Thanksgiving, parents of college students would be well advised to spoil their kids with plenty of home cooking, of course, and make sure they get some rest. But more importantly, add one more item to the shopping list before they return to college: a barrier system to keep bed bugs away from students and from infesting their mattresses. According to bed bug experts, it's a solution that will let everyone sleep better: students and parents alike.
EDITOR'S NOTE: For supplemental information on the topic of bed bugs on college campuses and to listen to a podcast featuring a full length interview with Rick Cooper, visit http://bedbugthanksgiving.wordsworthweb.com.
Protect-A-Bed produces mattress protectors that provide consumers with a healthy and comfortable sleep environment. The product was developed in South Africa in 1980 and Protect-A-Bed was first established in the USA in 2000, offering bedding protectors to help create a dry, bed bug free, anti-allergy sleep zone for people of all ages. The product is now sold in 27 countries. Protect-A-Bed is the leader in mattress protection innovation, developing the proprietary Miracle Membrane(R) and patent pending Bug Lock(R) Secure Seal for bed bug protection. Protect-A-Bed products are listed as a Class 1 Medical Device with the Food and Drug Administration and have received the Good Housekeeping Seal. For more information, visit http://www.protectabed.com.
BedBugCentral, a division of Cooper Pest Solutions, is home to the nation's most comprehensive website devoted to accurate and factual bed bug information and products for the public. Technical Director, Richard Cooper, is regarded as one of the leading bed bug experts in the pest control industry. He recently co-authored a book titled "Bed Bug Handbook: The Complete Guide to Bed Bugs and Their Control." He is also a highly sought after speaker on bed bugs and other pest management topics. More information can be obtained at http://www.bedbugcentral.com.
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