The Truth Behind 3 Common Bed Bug Myths

Recent years have seen extensive media coverage on a bed bug resurgence throughout the U.S. – but how often do reporters and magazines get the facts straight? You might be surprised to learn that some of the facts you thought were true, are actually just myths and misconceptions. In this article, our bed bug litigation attorneys break down three of the most widespread myths about bites and infestations.

Myth #1: “Bed Bug Bites Aren’t Dangerous”

Most people will tell you that mosquito bites are “annoying, but harmless.” That’s usually true… except for those instances where mosquito bites lead to malaria or West Nile Virus, both of which are potentially fatal.

So why do we mention this in an article about bed bugs? Because there’s a strong parallel between mosquito bites and bed bug bites. Not only do bed bug bites physically resemble mosquito bites – they are also regarded as “annoying, but harmless.”
And they can also inflict deadly diseases.

Bed bug bites don’t cause West Nile Virus or malaria, but they can cause Chagas Disease, which kills over a period of years or even decades by slowly enlarging the ventricles of the heart. In approximately 20% to 30% of victims, this complication eventually leads to fatal organ failure.

black suitcase on bed

 

Bed bug bites have also been connected to hepatitis B, a persistent and potentially chronic infection of the liver. Hepatitis B and its complications – liver cancer and cirrhosis of the liver, a condition usually associated with alcoholism – collectively account for roughly 780,000 deaths each year.

Think your chances of coming down with Chagas Disease or hepatitis B are one-in-a-million? Then consider the more common complications of being bitten, which include hyperpigmentation (skin discoloration), cellulitis (skin infection), folliculitis (an infection of the hair follicles), and impetigo (running facial sores). Plus, the insomnia caused by nights of non-stop itching can lead to fatigued driving, impaired decision-making, and other hazards.

If an infestation victim doesn’t know that bed bugs are a health hazard, they won’t seek medical attention for their bites – and by the time they finally do, it may already be too late. The statement that bed bugs aren’t dangerous, is dangerous.

Myth #2: “You Can Treat Infestations at Home with DIY Remedies”

Whether they’re trying to save money or the environment, most infestation victims initially pin their hopes on low-cost, eco-friendly DIY methods. Tea tree oil and diatomaceous earth are cheap, easy to find, and they don’t hurt the planet, so why wouldn’t you use them?

Well, because DIY treatments aren’t very effective.

Bed bugs are incredibly tough. DIY remedies simply don’t work against them, especially in situations where populations are already well-established. Bed bugs can survive for over a year without eating – longer than most other bugs’ entire lifespans – and if you’re thinking of freezing them out, you’d better be prepared to set your thermostat to below zero for the next few days and have heavy duty industrial equipment.

However, there’s also some good news for the eco-conscious infestation victim: you don’t have to harm the environment to get good results. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency warns that bed bugs are highly resistant to most pesticides, so spraying your house with a toxic cloud is actually the wrong way to handle the problem.

In fact, “bug bombs” and chemical foggers will merely send bed bugs running for cover, driving them ever deeper into the nooks and crannies of your home – or into neighboring apartments – where they’ll be even tougher to root out and kill. (Since bed bugs are speedy crawlers which can cover a few feet per minute, they won’t have a problem avoiding fumes at the first sign of trouble.)

Cold doesn’t work, DIY pesticides doesn’t work, and gentle home remedies don’t work. So what, if anything, will solve the problem? Heat. Lots and lots of heat.

close up of bed bug

Bed bugs won’t perish until the temperature of their ambient surroundings climbs to at least 113 degrees, for a minimum duration of 90 minutes. It’s incredibly unsafe to attempt this sort of treatment on your own, because you could accidentally start a fire or give yourself (or your pet) heat stroke.

You should never attempt to perform a DIY bed bug heat treatment, no matter how thoroughly you research the subject. If you’re thinking of using this method, contact a professional pest management company. They have the certification and equipment necessary to get the job done effectively – and safely.

Myth #3: “Only Dirty People Get Bed Bugs”

From the time we’re children, we’re taught that dirty plates and spilled drinks will start to attract ants and cockroaches if left out for too long. Since most of us associate pest infestations with squalor and decay, people who get bed bug infestations may feel too ashamed to seek help from a doctor or call a pest control company.

In truth, bed bugs have been spotted in just about every kind of environment you could imagine. While keeping a tidy home can help to discourage bed bugs by giving them fewer places to hide, the reality is that no amount of scrubbing or vacuuming will prevent bed bugs from entering your residence. Pest management companies have reported responding to infestations in hotels, office buildings, nursing homes, college dorms, movie theaters, condominiums, elementary schools, churches, summer camps, police stations, hospitals… the list goes on and on.

Bed bugs are not attracted to rotting food, unwashed clothing, or anything else that would indicate poor hygiene – all they feed on is blood. As long as a structure is inhabited by a human, bed bugs are happy to live there – no matter how spotless and immaculate the setting may be.

Our Bed Bug Lawyers Have Helped Hundreds of People

If your apartment building has bed bugs, your landlord may be responsible for the cost of hiring a pest management service. They may also be liable for compensating you for property damage, medical bills, and other expenses caused by the infestation. To start talking about your legal options in a free and private consultation, call the law offices of Whitney, LLP at (410) 583-8000.