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Bed Bug Invasion of the UK

Britain should be bracing itself for an infestation of blood sucking parasites that have already created a pandemic across America, Bed bugs, which feed on human blood, are becoming more and more prevalent – with hotels, bed and breakfasts and guest houses being the most vulnerable. “It is definitely getting worse”

They are becoming quite common in all major cities such as London, Bristol, Bath, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Birmingham, Liverpool and many more towns and cities. London Transport has been having buses and tube trains treated to get rid of them. BA has even had planes grounded because of bed bugs, even in first class.

One of the problems is that the barriers that used to keep them out of the country are not in place any more. Airlines can’t afford the down time to carry out the necessary checks and fumigation procedures. They can also come into the country in sealed containers on ships and with so many people now travelling to Asia, where they are particularly prevalent, especially in the cheaper places where students or gap year travellers stay, and bring them back on their clothing or in their luggage. In America they are experiencing a veritable pandemic – they’ve even got them in department stores.

We also have them in Gloucestershire.

I was called to one home where a seven-year old girl’s bedroom was absolutely infested with them. They had taken so much of her blood that she collapsed at school. At first it was thought she was suffering from anaemia and scabies, until one of the hospital doctors correctly diagnosed the skin rash was from the bed bug bites. “When I examined the girl’s bedroom, they were up to an inch deep in places. I have never seen anything like it in my entire career. It was horrific”. Unfortunately Social Services don’t have a budget for this sort of thing and the housing association said it wasn’t their responsibility. In the end, Gloucester Rugby Club heard about it through having connections with the girl’s school, and they paid for the treatment out of a special charitable fund they have.

He warns of the invasion of the blood sucking parasites. “There are a lot of misconceptions about bed bugs. Most people think that if they have them, it is a reflection on them having a dirty house. This is not the case – bed bugs prefer a clean environment. Your home becomes infected if you bring one home on your clothing, as they are hitch hikers. If you bring home a male it’s not so bad. If you bring a female carrying egg’s, on her own, or with a male, you’re going to have problems, as they breed very quickly. The only good news about them is that as far as we know they do not transmit any nasty human diseases (As yet!)”.

Grahame explained that to find out whether you have a problem is relatively simple. If you check around the headboard or the bed frame you can see them or their fecal matter or smears. The mature bugs are actually fairly large so they can be fairly easy to spot, (they are about the size of an apple pip) if you know where to look.

Getting rid of them is not so easy and it should be done by a professional pest control firm. You see adverts for bed bug spray cans or kits on the internet for £12-£20 but they just don’t work- full stop. To get rid of them for good, the building needs to be checked, and then affected areas need to be treated. A minimum of three treatments should be done over a 30 day period, depending on the severity of the infestation. Any less and it can result in a reinfestation in next to no time. Sometimes we might have to evacuate the building while this work is being done.

Costs for domestic properties obviously vary but start from about £360 and the biggest I’ve done is about £4,000 for a hotel”.

This is a problem that will not go away. It needs to be addressed and addressed soon, and like most of these things – prevention is better than cure!