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Bed bugs biting back

Experts urge hoteliers to learn the signs of infestation and check bedding regularly

Google employees were left itchy when bed bugs were discovered at their Manhattan office. It’s the latest story in a summer of bed bug panic in New York, during which a helpline set up specifically to deal with the problem received over 13,000 calls. However, pest controllers have warned that this is a pandemic, and not limited to New York.

UK hoteliers should be particularly vigilant to prevent any infestation of the bloodsuckers spreading. Tell-tale signs such as itching will not be obvious if you’re not sleeping in the bed yourself, but bed bugs often leave evidence that they've spent the night, particularly in corners and creases. Sheets need to be washed at high temperatures to stand a chance of killing these pests.

Bed bugs can get into upholstery, clothing, and luggage too, but usually nest in the wooden frames of furniture. Take care not to let anything that might be infested contaminate other rooms, and don’t buy second-hand mattresses or duvets. The pest controllers should be called as soon as bedbugs are suspected.

They’re causing a lot of trouble considering bed bugs are so small and the stuff of silly rhymes, but it’s still small fry compared to the pest problem that afflicted our ancestors. In the beginning of the 20th century, bed bugs infested huge swathes of houses across major cities, until a 1936 Ministry of Health investigation spurred the authorities into action. Hopefully the problem will not be as bad as some news sources are making out, but it can’t hurt proprietors to know what we’re up against!

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