Bedbug infestations rare in area

Bed bugs may be taking an interest in the Lower Mainland, but they haven’t found their way to the Shuswap.

What to look for: Adult bedbugs resemble apple seeds and can hide in tiny cracks in furniture and seams in mattresses.

Bed bugs may be taking an interest in books in the Lower Mainland, but, fortunately, they haven’t yet read any maps guiding them to the Shuswap.

With the news that bed bugs were found recently in books in a Vancouver public library, the New Westminster public library and two branches in Burnaby, interest in the tiny blood-sucking critters has grown.

Lesley Dieno, executive director of the Okanagan Regional Library, says she keeps in touch with library directors throughout the province and, from what she’s heard, bed bugs in books have been found only in the Lower Mainland.

Although local library staff have been provided information about bed bugs, they haven’t had to apply it.

Dieno said libraries in this region do receive some interlibrary loans from the Coast, but she notes that libraries aren’t great habitat for bed bugs.

“Bedbugs need to eat. People aren’t in libraries 24 hours per day.”

She said the bedbug scare doesn’t seem to have affected regional library use.

“I think people realize it’s more a problem in the Lower Mainland than here. If one of our branches had a bed bug problem, we’d know about it pretty darn quick,” she said, noting how vigilant staff are.

In the Lower Mainland, anyone who finds a bedbug in a book is asked to put the book and bug in a sealed plastic bag and return it to the library.

Jen Jacobsen with Interior Health says there have been no recent reports of bedbugs in this area in any location – neither beds nor books.

“In the past, yes, but in the last six months, no. We usually don’t get very involved. Our response is limited to telling the hotel operator information about getting in touch with pest control. We do follow-up to make sure pest control is in place.”

She said any establishment with pests is always quick to deal with them. She adds that bed bugs can show up in all kinds of buildings, even clean ones.

For more information on bed bugs, she suggests going to: www.health.gov.bc.ca/protect/bed-bugs.html.

The web also includes a bed bug registry, where people can search their town or street to see if any bedbug reports have been made. It’s at: http://bedbugregistry.com/. Vernon, Kelowna and Kamloops show a handful of  reports each, but Salmon Arm has none.

Pharmacist Blane Ready says questions about bedbugs have increased recently.

“I think with it being more out there in the forefront of the media, I’ve had more enquiries about it, but I haven’t had anyone who has actually brought in a bed bug.”

He said bed bugs are an annoying nuisance, but aren’t known to carry viruses like deer mice and deer ticks can.

“Public health isn’t that concerned about them – they are just kind of a gross thing…”

If you’re wondering what kind of reading bed bugs prefer, in one Burnaby branch the few dead bugs that were found had apparently immersed themselves in a couple of books in the thriller-mystery section. The preferences in the other libraries haven’t been revealed.

Bed bug profile:

• A well-fed bedbug can live from four to six months, while a dormant one might live without feeding for up to 18 months.

• Bedbugs resemble apple seeds.

• Bedbugs are not necessarily a sign of dirty homes or buildings.

• Bedbugs don’t fly or hop and generally travel short distances, but easily hitch rides in luggage, clothing or other items – such as books!

• Bedbugs like to hide during the daylight in tiny crevices – in seams and under buttons on mattresses, in folds and creases in bed linens, in cracks in headboards, inside electrical outlets, inside appliances, beneath loose wallpaper, behind base mouldings, in furniture, behind pictures and paintings. They’ll nest anywhere they can find a source of blood.

• Bedbugs are nocturnal and are attracted by the carbon dioxide people breathe out and by their warmth.

• Bedbug droppings – small reddish or brownish spots – on bed linens are often the first sign of infestation. Another sign is swelling where a bite has taken place.

• Getting rid of bedbugs takes vigilance but can be done. Strategies can include: thorough vacuuming, throwing out infested mattresses and furniture (wrapping them first so the bedbugs don’t spread), heat treatment, steam, cold treatment – freezing; sprays and more. Much information is available on the Internet.

 

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