Beware of bugs in the bed!
LONDON – Vampire fiction may be all the rage. But the true bloodsuckers after twilight are not charismatic updates of Dracula but tiny insects living in our mattresses, headboards and pillows. Yes, bed-bugs are back and pest controllers are warning of a global pandemic.
A recent survey of a thousand pest control firms around the world by the University of Kentucky and the United States’ National Pest Management Association, appears to show that the bed-bug problem is increasing everywhere.
“The results of the global study suggest that we are on the threshold of a bed-bug pandemic, not just in the United States, but around the world,” said Missy Henriksen, vice-president of public affairs for NPMA.
A study led by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine last year found the number of complaints about bed-bugs in the capital grew annually by an average of 28.5 per cent between 2000 and 2006. And there was no sign of the problem abating with Rentokil reporting the number of bed-bug call-outs had gone up by 24 per cent in the first half of the year.
Hotels in Britain have been using the “first certified bed-bug sniffer dog in Europe” to seek out the creatures.
“It sounds like a gimmick,” said Mark Astley, founder of the consultancy Trust K9.
Lola, a one-year-old Jack Russell who was trained in the United States, did not kill the bed-bugs but was able to find them far quicker than a human, Astley said.
“Lola can do 200 rooms in a day. It only takes her three minutes to search a room, whereas it might take me half an hour.”
When she finds them she will paw at the area, allowing her handler to know the problem was bed-bugs and not some other infestation.
Some British hotels have even taken to employing the services of a sniffer dog in a bid to root out infestations of the tiny insects.
The problem is already big news in America. The nation’s Environmental Protection Agency last month warned of an “alarming resurgence” of bed-bugs, a creature the EPA said caused painful itching, allergic reactions, not to mention mental health problems and negative economic consequences.
New York was the worst affected city with office buildings, cinemas and shops – including a branch of expensive lingerie chain Victoria’s Secret – having to close. (BBC)