New York's bed bug problem spreading to London

Wed Feb 9, 2011 11:11am EST
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By Jackie Cowhig

LONDON (Reuters) - Avoiding New York and boiling your suitcase might not be enough for Londoners to dodge the global bed bug pandemic - they're already here, probably in a hotel, house or cinema near you.

Apple seed-sized, flat, brownish bed bugs (also known as Cimicidae) were once rife all over the world but had been largely wiped out by the banned pesticide DDT. During the past few decades, like head lice, they have been mounting a comeback, pest control firms say.

Wrongly linked to poverty or poor hygiene, today's jet-setting bed bugs travel on all airline classes in luggage, aircraft seats and clothes to wherever people sleep or rest.

This week there were over 42,000 references to bed bugs on customer feedback travel website and British pest control firm Rentokil Plc said there has been a 24 percent increase in bed bug jobs over the last year in Britain.

"Bed bugs are a worldwide and growing problem," Rentokil Technical Director Savvas Othon told Reuters. "People carry bed bugs unknowingly in clothes and bags..."

Pest controller Mark Astley said the problem in London encouraged him to switch careers from IT consultant and he has seen such a surge in demand that he has acquired a dog trained to sniff out bed bugs in order to speed detection.

Astley, whose Trust K9 canine scent detection company runs seminars on bed bug management for hoteliers, said the bugs hide in bed frames, headboards, skirting, wall and ceiling cracks, behind light switches and can drop on you from the ceiling.

But they don't like smooth surfaces so if you sleep in a hotel bath or keep your luggage there you might be all right.   Continued...