The Huron County General Health District is sharing concerns from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regarding the proper treatment of bed bugs.
Since 2006, emergency hotlines have received an increasing number of phone calls from people reporting illness due to pesticide use in their homes. The pesticides had been applied by the homeowners, landlords or professional pesticide applicators to control bed bugs.
The cases involved pesticides that were applied incorrectly, not intended for indoor use, or legally banned for use.
The CDC recommends the following steps for preventing health-threatening exposure to pesticides:
1. Make sure you are treating the right pest by confirming that your infestation is actually bed bugs. Many products are designed to treat specific pests and will not work on other insects. Due to their similar appearances, bed bugs can be confused for ticks, bat bugs, poultry bugs, carpet beetles and barn swallow bugs. Adult bed bugs are reddish brown with flat bodies in the shape and size of an apple seed. They do not have wings. For help ensuring your pests are bed bugs, you can contact the Huron County Health Department at (419) 668-1652, ext. 302.
2. Check the labels on any products you are using to make sure they are for indoor use. Do not use outdoor pesticides in your home.
3. If you hire a professional, use a pest control expert. Make sure the person is currently licensed and certified to apply pesticides. You can ask to see the certification and should ask what brand name of pesticide they will be using.
4. If you purchase and apply pesticides yourself, make sure the pesticide is unopened and in its original, labeled container that displays an EPA approval statement.
5. Always follow the instructions on the product label. The instructions will tell you how to mix the product, and where and how often to use it. Do not over apply; more is not better with pesticides.
6. Do not use bleach in any area that has been treated with a pesticide. Bleach can convert pesticides to more toxic forms that can cause illness. Household chemicals such as bleach, kerosene or rubbing alcohol should not be used for pest control.
If you think you have been over exposed to a pesticide or feel sick after a pesticide has been used in your home, consult a physician or the Poison Control Center immediately at 1-800-222-1222.
Due to their smaller body weights, children, infants and pets are more reactive to pesticide exposure. They should be watched for any signs of illness after pesticide use in the home such as dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting or tremors.
The Huron County Health Department can assist with bed bug infestations. A bed bug inspection can be done on luggage or in your home by the county's bed bug detecting canine, Kramer, and his handler, Shannon Ditz. For information, call (419) 668-1652, ext. 302.