For Physicians at Banner Gateway Medical Center  

Bug of the Month – Bed Bugs


Bed bugs (Cimex lectularius) have bothered humans from the dawn of history.

Originally, bed bugs inhabited caves. As people moved out of the caves, the bed bugs moved with them. Bed bugs are small, flat, parasitic insects that feed solely on the blood of people and animals while they sleep. Reddish-brown in color, and wingless, they range from 1mm to 7mm , (about the size of an apple seed) and thrive in conditions that are comfortable to humans.

Bed bugs are often hard to control because they are nocturnal, seek obscure hiding places, are very small and elusive, and can detect and avoid many chemicals, including cleaning agents. They are easily transported on or in luggage, furniture, boxes, and clothes. Because they are very thin, except just after a blood meal, they can fit through or hide in very narrow cracks. Adults can live for several months (some more than a whole year), and nymphs can survive for 3 months or longer without feeding.

Bed bugs are an annoyance, but are not considered to be a medical or public health hazard since they are not known to spread disease. Bed bug bite symptoms don’t appear immediately. Usually after a week victims notice small bumps or red welts.

These red welts may not cause any itching initially to some people. The most common sign of bed bug bites is that they usually occur in a regular line of three. This pattern is referred to as “breakfast, lunch and dinner” by infectious disease experts. They cause an itching and burning sensation after a few days.

After World War II, bed bugs were eradicated from most developed nations through the use of DDT pesticides. With the banning of those toxic pesticides and increased international travel, bed bugs are again becoming a problem.

Due to a recent increase in national and local incidents of bed bugs, the following procedure should be used to prevent infestation in the hospital:

  1. When a patient or family member states they have a known bed bug infestation in their residence, complain of bed bug bites and/or experiencing bed bugs while admitted to our hospital, attempt to visualize the bug.
  2. Patients that are admitted should be asked to remove all articles of clothing worn from home, shower and be provided a clean gown. Although bed bugs do NOT live on people, they can hide in their clothing and belongings.
  3. Place the patient into Contact Precautions. Bed bugs do not attach to skin or hair but “hitch-hike” on clothing and other possessions. When handling the patient’s belongings, staff are to wear  ALL the appropriate PPE (gown, gloves and booties)
  4. Using a plastic bag, bag all patient belongings and seal tightly; send home with family members. If no family is available, bag belonging, seal tightly and store in patient room.  Be sure to include all belongings (clothes, purses, wallets, cell phones, computers, iPads, etc) and instruct the family NOT to bring in items from home.
  5. After the patient is discharged contact EVS for room extermination.
    • EVS will contact Pest Services  who will perform an inspection of the reported affected areas (including linen and mattress and adjacent rooms).
    • Pest Services will treat affected areas (including removal of linen and treatment of adjacent rooms) if necessary.
    • The room will be blocked for 24-72 hours following extermination to allow the chemicals to work properly.  The door MUST remain closed.
    • EVS will notify House Supervisor that room is closed for inspection and treatment 24-72 hours
    • After pest services has completed inspection and treatment, EVS will perform  terminal cleaning.
    • EVS will notify House Supervisor to re-open room.
Banner Gateway Medical Center
Higley Road and US 60
1900 N. Higley Road
Gilbert, Arizona 85234
(480) 543-2000
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