Last Saturday saw the fumigation of some Senior High Schools in the Ashanti region by NADMO in it’s quest to eradicate bedbugs from these schools. The move has been applauded by all and sundry with some wishing that it transcends the borders of Ashanti region into other parts of the country.
However, there are still some fundamental lingering questions and some knowledge that must be imparted to the general public about the bedbugs. This is necessary due to the fact that bedbugs do not stay in schools alone but right there in our homes, kitchen, offices, cars etc.
By the middle of the 20th century, humans seemed to be winning the war against bedbugs. Some people were familiar with bedbugs only because of an old nursery rhyme that instructed “Don’t let the bedbugs bite “. In the 1970’s, however, many countries decided to restrict the use of DDT- a primary weapon against bedbugs – because it was toxic and ecologically harmful.
Increasingly ,bedbugs became resistant to other chemical treatments. People also began to travel more frequently and unwittingly took bedbugs with them. With what results? “During the past 12 years “, says a report on bedbugs control “a resurgence of bedbugs has been reported in the U. S, Canada, the Middle East, several European countries, Australia and parts of Africa”.
In Moscow ,Russia, complaints about bedbugs grew tenfold in one recent year. Meanwhile, on other side of the globe, in Australia, bedbugs infestations have increased by some 5000 percent since 1999.
Some inadvertently carry bedbugs from stores, theaters, or hotels. Why are bedbugs so difficult to eradicate? How can you protect yourself? If bedbugs invade your home, what practical steps can you take to eliminate them and prevent them from returning?
Because the are no bigger than an apple seed and have a flat body, bedbugs can hide almost anywhere. They may find a home in your mattress, your furniture, an electrical outlet, or even in your telephone. Bedbugs tend to stay within 10-20 feet of beds and seating areas. Why? To keep close to their food source -you.
Bedbugs often bite when their victims are asleep. However, most people don’t feel the bite because the bugs inject an anesthetic that allows them to feed for ten minutes without interruption. And although bedbugs may feed every week, they have been known to survive without a meal for many months.
Granted, unlike mosquitos and some other insects, bedbugs are not known for spreading infectious disease. Nevertheless, their bites can become itchy and develop into welts, and many people suffer emotionally. Bedbugs victims may experience insomnia, shame and even “phantom bites” after the bugs are gone. A report from Sierra Leone calls bedbugs” a source of great irritation and sleepless nights “ and warns of “ social stigma attached to bedbugs”.
Keep Bedbugs Out
Bedbugs can afflict anyone. They are easier to manage if you detect them early. So learn to recognize the signs of bedbugs at home and when you travel. Inspect your furniture, baseboards, and luggage for small eggs the size of poppy seeds and for blood stains. Use a flashlight to improve your chances of spotting them.
Give bedbugs fewer places to hide. Seal cracks and crevices in walls and door frames. Although uncleanness does not cause bedbugs, they will be easier to spot and control if you vacuum regularly and reduce clutter. In a hotel room, you may reduce the chance of having bedbugs travel with you if you keep your suitcase off the floor and the bed.
If Bedbugs Invade Your Home
If you find bedbugs in your home or hotel, you may be anxious and even ashamed. While on vacation, Dave and his wife were bitten by bedbugs. “We were terrified”, says Dave. “What will we tell our friends and family when we get home? Would they think that any itchiness or skin irritation they had was from their visit to our house”? Even though these reactions are normal, do not let embarrassment hold you back from seeking help. The New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene gives this reassurance “ It is hard, but not impossible to get rid of bedbugs”
Do not, however underestimate the challenge of exterminating bedbugs. If you find bedbugs in your home, a licensed pest controller can likely give you the help you need. Veterinary offices across the country would be ready to help when they are consulted. Although the chemicals mentioned earlier are no longer used, pest controllers combine several other effective methods to treat the bugs. By following the technician’s instructions and taking reasonable precautions, you can do your part and not “let the bedbugs bite”
Let’s all join hands and forces in appreciation of NADMO’s initiative to completely eradicate bedbugs from our motherland Ghana and save ourselves some precious resources used to fight this tiny insect called bedbugs.
Kaakyire Yaw Obituary Yeboah, Nutritionist, Bekwai Municipal Hospital.