Hotel and B&B guests are being urged to prepare for an invasion of bed bugs. Holidays in the UK can return from July 4, according to an announcement by Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week. However, although holiday accommodation has been lying empty for the past few months, travellers do still need to take care when it comes to bed bugs and follow the right travel advice.
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Bed bugs are tiny, flat, rust-coloured parasites which cause itchy bites.
They can hide in many places, including on bed frames, mattresses, clothing and furniture.
Some experts claim their numbers have been growing for the last 15 years due to an increased resistance to pesticides, among other factors.
“Bed bugs live a long time – sometimes six months to a year – without food,” said Dr Richard Naylor, director and chief entomologist at The Bed Bug Foundation.
“They are activated primarily by CO2 from human breathing and body heat.”
“They can detect when there is a host around, so the first guests in hotels can expect to be bitten quite aggressively, particularly at night-time.
“I would advise guests that bed bugs hide close to the bed and lay eggs in small places, such as in bed frames or mattress springs.
“Keep your belongings away from the bed, preferably on a luggage rack or if the hotel room is small, in the bathroom.”
According to home services and pest control firm Fantastic Services, bed bugs are one of the most common reasons for pest call-outs.
The company has advised what holidaymakers concerned about bed bugs can do ahead of a holiday.
“Social distancing rules are still in full force, but if you think that means you’ll be sleeping alone on your staycation, then you could be in for an itchy surprise,” said Fantastic Services CEO Rune Sovndahl said.
“Before booking a stay, it’s worth enquiring as to whether sheets, mattresses and bed frames have been properly cleaned.”
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Top tips to avoid bed bugs
– Prior to check-in, ask the establishment what practices they have put in place to deal with bedbug prevention and treatment.
– Thoroughly inspect the room before unpacking, making sure to check behind the headboards, sofas and chairs.
– It’s also worth pulling back the bedsheets and inspecting the mattress seams, particularly at the corners, for stains or spots.
– If you see anything suspicious, notify management and ask to change rooms immediately.
– Keep your belongings away from the bed because bed bugs come out at dark, feed and go back to their hiding place – this may result in you unknowingly bringing bed bugs back to your home.
– After your trip, make sure to inspect the contents of your luggage before bringing them into the house.
– Bed bugs can easily travel in your belongings, so consider vacuuming your suitcases and washing all of your clothes in hot water to ensure that any lingering bed bugs don’t find their way into your closet.
– If you notice any bites, apply liquid soap or a paste made of baking soda and water on the bitten spots and let it dry out. If the rash is too severe, then you might want to see a dermatologist or use a steroidal anti-itch cream.
According to the NHS, signs of bedbugs include:
- bites – often on areas exposed while sleeping, like the face, neck and arms
- spots of blood on your bedding – from the bites or from squashing a bedbug
- small brown spots on bedding or furniture (bedbug poo).
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