Bed bugs are common in hotels in the developing countries, but in the recent years they have been increasingly found in US hotels, too. So much so that the website Bedbugregistry.com that asks travelers to report bed bug problems in US hotels has several recent reports.
What are Bedbugs?
Bedbugs (Cimex lecturlarius) are small, wingless insects that suck blood from humans or from other host animals. They live inside mattresses, carpets and in cracks in wooden furniture, such as beds. They can also live behind wallpaper and practically in any crevices and cracks, although most often you will find them in the bed.
Bedbugs usually attack at night when you’re sleeping. When they bite, bedbugs leave small, red bites in rows, and the bites can get very itchy. But just because you have been bitten does not mean that your hotel is infested with bedbugs; it might be infested with something else. Bedbug bites can be confused with flea bites or other insect bites.
Different people react differently and some people get a much stronger reaction than others, but most people find the bites itch badly. Bedbugs are not thought to transmit diseases, but the itching can be uncomfortable. Antihistamine creams may help.
How to Check for Bedbugs in a Hotel
Bedbugs are so small that it is difficult to see the actual bugs, but they leave droppings behind, and these are often bloody. Tiny stains of blood in the sheets, on the mattress or on the walls around the bed can be signs of a bedbug infestation. Check the sheets, the mattress, the bed’s headboard and any cracks in the bed carefully for small brown spots.
One way to protect yourself against bedbugs is to carry your own sheets or at least a single sheet you can use as a protection. This works if you are traveling in developing countries and are staying in cheap hotels where you can’t be sure about the general cleanliness, or how well the sheets have been washed. But bedbugs are not necessarily a sign that the hotel is dirty.
Once bed bugs have settled into a property, it can be very difficult to get rid of them, and they also travel easily in your suitcase from one place to another. This means you can unwittingly carry bedbugs from a hotel to your home. Bedbugs also seem to be able to escape and survive pesticides that are used against other bugs such as cockroaches or ants; see bedbugger.com for tips on getting rid of bedbugs.