Once only a concern of travelers frequenting cheap, damp hostels and hotels, bed bugs have recently been upgraded to higher standards. An increase in bed bug infestations has been reported in five-star hotels in the US and Europe, department stores, hospitals, and the homes of people who never travel internationally.
There was a time when bed bugs were believed to be completely eradicated from North America. Theories as to why bed bugs are on the rise again vary, however, most experts agree that their increasing resistance to insecticides plays an important role in their resurgence. Other factors, such as the global increase in world travel and the import of cheap goods, have contributed to the increase; bed bug eggs can even be present in new clothing waiting to be sold.
Southeast Asian beds are now competing with more travelers who sport the red bumps like bed bug rashes. While avoiding bed bugs is partly a matter of luck, knowing what to look for will definitely give you a better chance of fighting!
Knowing the enemy
Bed bugs are small – they reach the length of the smallest nail at maturity. Oval in shape and reddish brown, they congregate and hide in dark places like mattress seams, under sofa cushions, and even rugs. Bed bugs are extremely survivors – they can go a full year without feeding at all and can survive freezing temperatures of up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit.
Bed bugs are silent and nocturnal; They bite in the same way that a mosquito does using a piercing tube. You may not feel a bed bug bite, especially while you are asleep, because they first inject an anesthetic into your unfortunate victim. Fortunately, unlike mosquito bites, bed bug hives do not currently transmit disease.
Avoid bed bugs in Southeast Asia
Whether it’s a hostel bunk, a guesthouse, or a luxurious hotel, always check the mattress as soon as you check in. While bed bugs can hide elsewhere, they prefer to stay near your food – in this case, you! Start by looking at the sheets and pillows for tiny blood stains, an indicator that someone has already been attacked.
Then remove the sheets and look for dark, damp stains along the mattress seams, buttons, and especially the label. Check the space between the headboard and the mattress, as well as under the mattress. Bed bugs are fast enough to avoid your eyes, however you can see their translucent skins or wet fecal matter that remains. If the infestation is severe enough, you may smell something sickly sweet and rotten.
If there is any indication of previous bed bug activity, your best bet is to switch hotels immediately rather than moving to a new room. Budget hotels in Southeast Asia will be reluctant to provide a refund, but remember that taking a small loss is better than the cost of eradicating bed bugs in the next few months.
If in doubt when checking into a budget hotel in Southeast Asia, consider paying for just one night, then extend once you’re satisfied that the room is clean.
How not to bring bed bugs home
Every bed bug’s dream is to take a free ride back to a good home. Clothes, Backpacks, Suitcases – Any fabric with little nooks and crannies will provide free transportation. Always start by keeping your bags off the bed and even off the floor if possible. Do not put clothes on the floor; Hang jackets or other items that are not washed regularly.
Many laundries in Southeast Asia don’t use drying machines; Washing and drying the line is not enough to kill bed bugs. Dryers must reach a temperature of 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 degrees Celsius) to kill bed bugs.
When you return home from a trip to Southeast Asia, quarantine your bags and clothing by placing them in the basement or garage; Don’t take them to the bedroom to unpack! Wash and dry everything thoroughly, including jacket, shoes, and backpack. Thoroughly vacuum backpacks and other items that cannot be washed easily.
If you are coming home in the summer, an old trick is to put your luggage in the trunk of a car parked for several days; temperatures can become high enough to destroy bed bug eggs. Low temperatures are not very effective in killing bed bugs, heat is required.
Remember that bed bugs can go a year without feeding; Just because your luggage has been unused for several months does not mean it is safe.
What to do if you get bitten by a bed bug
Losing our place at the top of the food chain for something so small and dirty carries a certain stigma. While observing the tips above will help, unfortunate people can still pick up bed bugs simply by sitting on a couch at the front desk. Seeing a bite or two on your body is no cause for alarm.
Bed bug bites usually come in clustered lines, many at once, that appear on the shoulders, arms, legs, or back. Unfortunately, the bites don’t appear for several days after the attack, making it difficult to determine the source if you’ve been moving around frequently.
Bed bug bites are not dangerous and usually go away on their own in about a week. The real threat comes from scratching bed bug bites at open sores that attract infection. Some people have a reaction to bed bug bites and develop a rash of swollen hives; Over-the-counter antihistamines will help.
If you do end up with bed bug bites, don’t panic and scratch, they heal on their own! Preventing the spread of bed bugs to other travelers or taking them home with family and friends should be the highest priority.