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Bed bug epidemic could hit South Africa

17 May 2009 No Comment

Bed bugs are increasing in numbers at an alarming rate and with most people unaware of the dangers associated with the bug: the problem now threatens to become an epidemic.

Bed bugs are increasing in numbers at an alarming rate and with most people unaware of the dangers associated with the bug: the problem now threatens to become an epidemic.

Globally the hospitality industry, domestic industry and the travelling public were oblivious to the health threat caused by bed bugs.

The Bed bug Seminar, that took place on 31 March in Johannesburg and 2 April in Cape Town, have called industry experts together to discuss this threatening epidemic and to find solutions.

This included Professor Michael F. Potter who is a professor of Entomology at the University of Kentucky. In the past the answer to the problem was an insecticide called DDT. This product has now been discontinued.

These days the onus falls heavily on the pest control industry to contain the problem. “The discontinuance of DDT, along with other effective bed bug insecticides undoubtedly has given the bed bug an opportunity to rebound and we are suffering the consequences of that today,” said Professor Potter Increased movement of people from around the globe, changes in pest control methods, and a shift away from products that were previously more effective against bed bugs than products used today, has resulted in increased reports of bed bug activity.

“Studies that we and other research groups have conducted clearly show that bed bugs have developed immunity to the most widely used insecticides available today for controlling bed bugs,” says Professor Potter.

“Guest house owners are not at all educated on the topic of bed bugs and how to detect or avoid their presence. I have received quite a few distressed calls from owners who have detected bed bug activity, but have little or no measures in place to deal with the infestation,” says Lyndsay Jackson from Guest House Accommodation of South Africa.

Through constant communication between the industries affected (hospitality, travel, housing, health care, furniture and public sector), solutions can be brought to the table.

“The public will also need to become vigilant. Years ago, travellers understood the risks of bed bugs and routinely checked their beds before turning in for the night and upon returning home inspected their belongings,”

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