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For Your HealthBY HELEN GUZZO, LMSW,Manager, Calhoun County Senior Servicescals, bed bug infestations are a growing problem in our community, affecting homes, schools, daycare centers, offices, hospitals, and public transportation. Bed bugs are small, wingless, flat insects that feed on the blood of people and animals when you are sleeping or being still. Bed bugs need a blood meal to rep- licate and to grow. They do not spread disease, but their bites can become infected or itchy and cause loss of sleep. Bed bugs are not a sign of a dirty home or poor personal hygiene.To prevent bedbug infestations, do not bring furniture, mattresses, or other items found on the roadside or previous- ly used into your home. Inspect mat- tresses at hotels before sleeping for signs of red dots near the mattress seams. Heat is an excellent bed bug killer, and drying clothing in a dryer on high heat for 30 minutes is an effective way to get rid of bed bugs in clothing and bedding. Because of bed bugs, some communities like the City of Battle Creek now require that mattress are wrapped in plastic before they are placed at the curb for disposal by trash haulers.graphic explains these steps. Start by cleaning your bedframe with soapy water and vacuuming the surrounding floor, and then encase your mattress and box springs in zippered mattress bags. Cover the zipper and any tears with duct tape. Remove any head board, move the bed away from the wall, wash and dry on high heat all your bedding, and when remaking your bed make sure bedding does not touch the wall, floor or other furniture. Put interceptors, available from Amazon, or a sturdy plastic dish under each bed leg with a thin layer of cooking oil. The interceptor cups keep bedbugs from crawling up from the floor and help you monitor for bed bugs because they get caught in the oil.Bed bugs are experts at hiding in small places like along floor baseboards or bed headboards. They do not fly or jump, and they are scared of people so sometimes they go undiscovered until an infestation develops. Signs to look for in identifying bed bugs on bedding include, seeing small blood spots, small dark droppings, small white eggs, or empty skins that bedbugs shed as they grow from one stage to another.It is important to start treatment as soon as a problem is detected. The best course of action is to hire an experi- enced pest management professional to recommend either heat, chemical, or a combination of the two treatment types. Treatment is expensive ranging be- tween $1,200 and $2,000 for an average house. Over the counter treatments are not effective and carry a risk of poison- ing yourself, your pets, and your family. Bug foggers or bombs are not effective against bedbugs.Preparing for bed bug treatment involves cleaning and organizing rooms to remove cluttered areas where bed bugs can hide. Clothes, shoes, pillow, and bedding must all be dried on high heat for 30 minutes and then stored in sealed, plastic bags or bins until the living area is cleared of the problem.Bed Bugs Are An Increasing Community ProblemFor most of our lifetimes, bed bugs were controlled by chemicals such as DDT, which turned out to be harmful to human health. Today, without use of these chemi-If you have bed bugs, an important treatment tool so that you can sleepat night in peace is to make your bedan island by isolating, cleaning and protecting your bed. The bed bug islandBed bug infestations are an increas- ing problem. It is a problem that affects people of all incomes and ages. It must be addressed because an infestation can grow quickly and spread to other people. Those affected should not be embarrassed to ask for help. Call a pest management professional because over the counter remedies are not effective and may be dangerous to your health. Please be aware that it might take more than one treatment from a professional to be effective. For more information visit: or SCENE 4409 I HEALTH ISSUEBecause of the increasing presence of bed bugs in the community, Senior Millage is developing a program to help low-income homeowners, age 60 and over, prepare and treat their home for bedbugs starting in January 2020.Helen Guzzo, LMSW, manages Calhoun County Senior Services, which funds services for Calhoun residents, age 60 and over, with Senior Millage tax dollars to promote wellness, safety, dignity and independence. To learn more, call (269) 781-0846.

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