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Bed Bugs in America

Bed bugs

One out of five Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or a hotel according to a new NPMA survey.

PCT Magazine | January 17, 2011

WASHINGTON, D.C. – One out of five Americans has had a bed bug infestation in their home or knows someone who has encountered bed bugs at home or a hotel according to a new survey from the National Pest Management Association (NPMA).

“Most Americans recognize that bed bugs are back in a big way. Our survey shows that people are taking the bed bug resurgence seriously and making simple adjustments to daily routines to avoid infestations,” noted Missy Henriksen, vice president of public affairs for NPMA. “While it appears bed bugs are here to stay, it is important that the public, the government and the pest control industry work together to minimize infestations through education, building awareness and assistance.”

The “Bed Bugs in America” survey offers a look at how the bed bug resurgence is impacting the lives of Americans. Here are key survey highlights:

Americans who have encountered bed bugs tend to be younger, live in urban areas and rent their homes. The incidence of bed bugs is three times higher in urban areas than in rural areas due to the factors such as larger population size, apartment living and increased travel and mobility which are conducive to the rapid spread and breeding of bed bugs.

  • Bed bugs have been found in all 50 states. Specifically, the pests were encountered by 17 percent of respondents in the Northeast; 20 percent in the Midwest; 20 percent in the South; and 19 percent in the West.
  • Most Americans are concerned about bed bugs and believe that bed bug infestations in the United States are increasing. Nearly 80 percent are most concerned about encountering bed bugs at hotels; 52 percent on public transportation; 49 percent in movie theaters; 44 percent in retail stores; 40 percent in medical facilities; 36 percent in their own homes, 32 percent equally pointed to places of employment and friends’ homes. The fear of getting bitten topped the list of concerns.
  • As the public’s awareness of the bed bug resurgence grows, many Americans are modifying their behaviors to minimize infestations: 27 percent have inspected or washed clothing upon returning from a trip; 25 percent have checked a hotel room for bed bugs; 17 percent have inspected or vacuumed a suitcase upon returning from a trip; and 12 percent have altered or canceled travel plans because of concern about bed bugs. In addition, 16 percent have inspected second-hand furniture they have brought into their homes; 15 percent have checked dressing rooms when trying on clothing; and 29 percent have washed new clothing immediately upon bringing it home from a store.
  • Of the 13 percent of respondents who said they knew someone who had a bed bug infestation in their home, 40 percent said they avoided entering the infested home and 33 percent discouraged those who had the infestation from entering their own home.
  • Despite widespread exposure to information, most Americans know little about bed bugs. Nearly half incorrectly believe that bed bugs transmit disease (NOTE: research conducted to date has shown that bed bugs are not vectors of disease); 29 percent inaccurately believe bed bugs are more common among lower income households, and 37 percent believe bed bugs are attracted to dirty homes.

Pest professionals will also find information in the survey about where respondents would search for professional pest management services, consumer attitudes on available treatment options, and more. The survey was enabled by the Professional Pest Management Alliance.

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