Bed bugs have been around for many years and are making resurgence in Oklahoma. Some facts:
- Bed bugs need a blood meal to live and reproduce
- Bed bugs do not transmit disease
- Bed bugs are a nuisance and can be costly in time and financial expense
- Bed bugs are hard to eliminate once established; they like to hide and can live a long time (at least a year) without feeding
- Bed bugs are found in both clean and dirty environments
- Health Care Management nurses (HCMN) that make home visits are at risk for contacting bed bugs and must prevent transporting the bed bugs to other applicants, to their own cars and homes, and to DHS offices
Prevention is best
Knowledge is powerful in prevention. The Centers for Disease Control and the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offer information on identification, management, prevention and answers to frequently asked questions, including pictures. These documents are intended to be used by the HCMN for personal reference and as teaching tools to applicants and members.
What do bed bugs look like?
You can see bed bugs with your eyes. The adult is about the size and shape of an apple seed and reddish brown in color. Bed bugs do not fly or jump but can crawl rapidly. Eggs are tiny (dust spec) and whitish. Newly emerged nymphs are straw colored and the size of a pinhead. Bed bugs shed their skin frequently during growth.
Signs of bed bug infestation
Bed bugs are nocturnal and hide during the day unless the infestation is extreme. They like to be near their host at night. Bed bugs are most likely to be found near sleeping areas. They tend to live within 8-10 feet of where people sleep. Look for live bed bugs, shed bed bugs skins, and tiny dark spots (feces). A sweet musty odor in the home may be indicative of their presence. Streaks on walls and evidence along baseboards may occur as well as
- Bed (mattresses, headboard) and in upholstery seams
- Cluttered areas near bed
- Other places used for nighttime sleeping (recliner, couch)
Bed bugs symptoms
Some people do not have allergic responses to bed bug bites. Others complain of bites that look similar to bites from a mosquito or flea, appearing on multiple areas of the body and often in a line. Still other complaints include insomnia, anxiety, and skin problems from scratching.
Reduce risk and use precaution when visiting homes!
Multiple sources confirm the chance of picking up bed bugs by merely walking into an infested dwelling during the day is unlikely due to their inactivity during daytime hours. Taking precautions can reduce risks, especially in homes where bed bugs have been reported or are likely. A best practice is to use precautions in all homes visited.
Leave a bed bug containment kit in vehicle. Include at a minimum:
- Anti Aids Personal Protection Pack which includes a Paper Gown, 1 pair of Shoe Covers, 1 pair of Gloves, 2 Chloride Towelettes, 1 Face Mask w/an eye screen, 1 Red Infection Waste plastic trash bag.
- a box of 100 Disposable Vinyl Ambidextrous Gloves, (Size Large)
- Wipes, Hand Anti-Bacterial
- Roll of tape
- Small and large plastic garbage bags
Prior to your home visit
- When screening the individual, ask if there have been any known bed bug occurrences or pest control treatments in the last few months, either in their home or the homes of neighbors
- Known, reported and verified infestations may require alternate assessment location or alternate location for completion of the assessment once the home is assessed. Consult supervisor as needed
What to wear to your home visit
- Wear clothing free of cuffs, buttons and pockets when able; shoes with minimal tread; leave scarves, jewelry and handbags at home or in the trunk
- Bring only necessary items into the home for the interview (Example: Leave coat in the car if possible)
- Wear protective booties if infestation is suspected
- Consider wearing coveralls (availability pending through DHS) or disposable gowns in a home with a known severe infestation
- Applying DEET-based repellents to the tops and bottoms of shoes may provide some benefit
During your home visit
- Sit on a chair that does not have upholstery or bring your own chair into the home
- Avoid sitting within 8-10 feet of a sleeping area (this includes sofas/recliners if used for sleeping at night)
- Avoid placing items on the floor or soft surfaces (bed, upholstered furniture, carpet, etc.); place items on a tabletop or other hard surface
- If possible, avoid sitting/standing in a carpeted area or leaning on or brushing up against beds and upholstered furniture
Suspect bed bugs? Follow through by the Health Care Management Nurse
- Check clothing and shoes (before entering vehicle) using a mirror if necessary, paying attention to back of pants, shoe treads, shoe laces, socks, cuffs and collar
- If wearing disposable items remove prior to entering car as you would any isolation technique trapping any bugs inside and away from you
- If an insect is found, put it in a plastic bag using a wet wipe or piece of tape for later identification
- Protect vehicle using garbage bags to sit on and rest feet
- Follow through with vehicle, clothing and personal care as directed in the provided weblinks
- Report incident to supervisor and discuss subsequent actions such as going home to bathe and change clothing, incident reporting for Risk Management, etc. Follow Safety/Security Protocol as applicable
- Document evidence within the UCAT and send an alert to MSU-AA regarding occurrence