According to AAA, more than 55 million Americans planned to travel this Thanksgiving. Evidence shows that bed bugs will continue to threaten overnight stays and vacations. With the countdown to Christmas officially on, the experts at Terminix Service, Inc. share eight tips to avoid bringing home unwanted guests from your holiday travels.

“Each year around the peak holiday travel season, we feel a responsibility to underline that bed bugs don’t discriminate,” said Terminix Technical Director Kevin Hathorne. “Whether you’re staying in a five-star resort or with family, these insects can thrive and lead to an infestation in your own home.”

Bed Bug facts:

Bed bugs don’t fly, but can easily climb onto luggage or clothing, which is how infestations usually spread. Bed bugs are typically found in places where people sleep but have also been found on public transportation (taxis, planes, cruise ships, etc.), department stores, movie theaters, office buildings, schools, churches and various other places.

A typical reaction for most people is a red swollen bump that occurs at the site of the bite with perhaps some itching. It is estimated that about 40% of the population does not react to bed bug bites at all. In rare cases, moderate to severe allergic reactions can occur.  Bed bugs have not been shown to transmit any disease through the feeding process, however recent research suggests that they are capable of spreading Chagas disease through contact with their excrement.

With travel being a primary source for bed bugs to spread, Terminix Service Inc. suggest travelers consider the following tips:

  1. Consider a hard-shelled suitcase, offering fewer crevices where bugs can hide.
  2. Check for bed bugs before unpacking or settling into the room. Avoid putting your baggage on the bed or on the floor—use the luggage rack or place luggage in the bathroom while inspecting the room. For the duration of the stay, consider hanging clothing in the closet or keep luggage on the dresser.
  3. Pull back sheets from the mattress and look for bugs along the seams or tiny blood spots on the mattress or sheets. Look along the edges and in the seams.
  4. Inspect the headboard and behind it.
  5. Examine upholstered furniture and window treatments.
  6. Notify management immediately and change rooms or hotels if there is evidence of bed bugs.
  7. Upon return home, before bringing the suitcase inside the house, vacuum off luggage and consider using a brush to scrub items that can’t be washed.
  8. Unpack immediately and launder all clothes in hot water and dry on high heat.

“If you inadvertently bring bed bugs home with you and discover them, call 1-800-TERMINIX immediately,’ said Hathorne. “A small infestation will lead to a lower bed bug removal cost and is easier to control than one that has time to spread.”

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