Social Service, Emergency Responders and Bed Bugs

September 2, 2015 by Doug Moore


We routinely inspect nursing homes, dialysis units, rehabilitation units for bed bugs.  We’re asked to inspect homes of health caregivers very frequently.

Having a son who is a professional fire fighter/EMT and often goes into homes to treat patients or perform fire duties and inspections reminds me that anyone (includes police officers) who is required to enter and work in bed bug-infested dwelling runs the risk of transporting some bugs home or to the workplace. It should be noted that bed bugs do not fly, nor jump onto people/pets as fleas do.

During the day, bed bugs usually remain hidden and immobile, becoming more active at night when seeking a host. Consequently, the chance of picking up bed bugs by merely walking into an infested dwelling during the day is unlikely, but is always possible.

The risk may increase while providing care but can be lessened by taking some precautions:

·         Bring in only what is needed, and avoid sitting or placing coats and other items on beds, floors and sofas where the bugs commonly reside. Essential items can be placed on a tabletop or other hard surface, preferably away from bedrooms and sleeping areas.

·         Better to sit on a hard (non-upholstered) chair than on sofas and recliners (it’s always better to stand!).

·         Also try to avoid leaning or brushing against beds and upholstered furniture.

·         If such items are carried out of infested dwellings (e.g., by sanitation workers or fire fighters), it’s best to wrap them in plastic or at least not hold them against your body during transport.

·         Emergency Medical (EMS) personnel may need to take additional precautions, such as removing a patient’s bed bug-infested shoes or clothing, or installing plastic sheeting before transporting them in the emergency vehicle.   

 Applying insect repellent at bedtime will probably not deter bed bugs from biting.

When working in severely infested dwellings, there may be some benefit to spraying tops and bottoms of shoes with DEET-based repellents (like Deep Woods Off).

Those working in bed bug-infested environments may also want to hot wash or run clothing, etc. through a dryer upon returning home or to the office.   

 For more information about bed bugs, heat treatment, and canine bed bug scent detection, click here.

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