Beware of bed bugs this holiday season - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

Beware of bed bugs this holiday travel season

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As you travel this holiday season, remember one very real, irritating threat... bed bugs.

Bed bugs are little bugs that hide around the areas where you sleep. They can also be found in a few places you may not think of such as buses, trains, hotel beds and couches, and even at family member's homes where you're visiting for the holidays. 

Bed bugs are nocturnal but during the day they hide in mattress seams, headboards, box springs and couch cushions.

Shawn Taylor, County Manager of Environmental Health for Muscogee County, says they can cause big problems.

"Well, as they travel, being in different places they may be checking in to hotels, motels, and family members," says Taylor. "They may pick up the eggs an bring them back to wherever they're staying and then they hatch out and they can potentially have a bed bug issue."

When you come back from vacation, make sure to check for them before opening your suitcase or laying down. Lift the sheets on the bed and inspect the mattress and do the same with the couch cushions. Bed bugs are flat, small and have a reddish-brown color. They can leave rusty colored spots where they have been hiding and a sweet musty odor.

Some signs that you have a bed bug infestation are bite marks on your hands, neck, face, arms, and other body parts. Bed bugs shed their skeletons. Finding them is another red flag, and of course finding the bugs themselves is a definite sign. Rusty colored blood spots that they leave behind are yet another clue that your home may have been invaded. 

Finding bed bugs doesn't mean you have to move out of your home or throw away all of your belongings.

"They have different methods on treating. It depends on the situation but they have several different methods that they use to treat the bed bugs," says Taylor. "And, they usually do a quarantine period and come back and make sure they're all been taken care of."

There are some home remedies that can help get rid of them. Spraying the bugs and the eggs with rubbing alcohol will kill them on the spot. Washing sheets and clothes in hot water will also kill them. Another tip is spraying them with hot steam, which helps to get into corners and crevices. When using home remedies an exterminator still needs to be called. Spot treating may not kill all of the bugs or eggs. 

The Centers for Disease Control says bed bugs are not known to spread diseases.  

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