Brampton – Bed bugs are a growing concern across Ontario. What are they, are they harmful and how do you get rid of them, are questions on many people’s minds. Peel Public Health was one of many health departments to recently receive one-time funding from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care to educate residents on how to prevent and handle bed bug infestations.
“Bed bugs can be a serious nuisance, but they are not a traditional public health risk because they do not transmit disease and are not linked to poor hygiene,” says Paul Callanan, Director of Environmental Health at the Region of Peel. “When bitten, some people may experience irritation, inflammation and itchiness at the site of the bite, which may lead to an infection or an allergic reaction. However, they are a concern because they often impact the vulnerable population in our society.”
A bed bug is brown and about a quarter inch or 5 mm long, but after feeding, its body can double in size and become reddish in colour. It is flat and wingless, and moves quickly by crawling. It feeds mainly at night by sucking a small amount of blood from skin. Bed bugs like to hide in small cracks and crevices. To prevent bed bugs:
- Vacuum your sleeping areas frequently, including the mattress, furniture, cracks, crevices and other areas
- Wash your bedding and clothing frequently in hot water
- Caulk and seal all cracks and crevices around your home
- Remove or seal loose wallpaper to reduce places for bed bugs to hide - Avoid clutter as much as possible, especially in your bedroom
- If you are purchasing second-hand furniture, have a good look before buying to make sure it is not infested
- Check for bed bugs periodically, especially if you have been travelling
To look for bed bugs, inspect your bedroom by checking cracks, baseboards and behind electrical boxes, frames, furniture, under carpet and curtains. Take extra care when checking your mattress, box spring, bed frame, pillow cases and sheets at the seam. Look for beg bugs, whitish eggs and dark spots, which are bed bug excrements. If you suspect that you have bed bugs and want confirmation, Peel Public Health can help you identify them. Please call Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700
for more information.
“Knowing how to prevent bed bugs and how to recognize an infestation are the first steps in controlling the spread of bed bugs,” continues Callanan. “If you are renting and suspect that bed bugs are present in the facility, you should report the infestation to the landlord or owner of the facility as soon as possible. Early reporting is important to prevent further infestation.”
The Region of Peel held a Bed Bug Symposium on November 1 to educate Regional employees, landlords, property managers and other community workers on bed bugs and what to do if they become an issue. Experts in the field shared their knowledge and provided practical solutions to dealing with bed bugs.
For more information on bed bugs, call Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700
, or visit peelregion.ca/health
. Information can also be found on the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care’s website at BedBugsInfo.ca