Bedbugs can infest your office, too

April 20, 2012 By Randy Dotinga, HealthDay Reporter
Bedbugs can infest your office, too
In Tennessee, government workers noticed persistent bites.

(HealthDay) -- Add bedbugs to your list of potential occupational health hazards. A new report reveals nearly half of the employees of a U.S. government office in Tennessee were bitten by the blood-thirsty invaders while at work.

A bedbug-detecting German shepherd confirmed the infestation at an unidentified building in Clarksville, Tenn., last September, and investigators concluded that at least 35 workers had suffered bites. Although one woman had bite marks all over her body, the bugs didn't cause serious health problems, according to the U.S. report.

Bedbugs can easily expand their territory beyond bedrooms, said Michael Potter, professor of entomology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington. "They start in homes and beds, and as people move about, they get transported into , schools, libraries, movie theaters, retail stores, you name it."

Clarksville, home to about 125,000 people in north Tennessee, is one of many cities combating bedbugs in nonresidential settings in recent years. Bedbug infestations have soared since 2000 across the United States, sending even customers of luxury hotels and upmarket clothing stores into a panic.

A 2011 survey of U.S. pest control companies found that 38 percent had responded to infestations at office buildings, up from 17 percent the year before. Treatments at schools and day-care centers rose to 36 percent from 10 percent, and visits to hospitals jumped from 12 percent of their jobs to almost one-third.

Bedbugs bite people, often at night, and become engorged with their blood. The bites cause welts, itching and swelling. However, bedbugs do not carry disease like some other insects.

The building in question serves children and has 76 employees, said Dr. Jane Baumblatt, a CDC epidemic officer based in Tennessee. Employees began reporting bites and itching last June, she said, and the state health department responded.

Theories about the source of the bites included scabies and fleas. But a German shepherd, one of many dogs around the country trained to detect bedbugs, found them in cubicles and offices within the building, Baumblatt said. Also, dermatologists confirmed that the bites were from bedbugs.

Baumblatt interviewed 61 employees and found that 35 had suffered from bites, often on their legs. "It wasn't that severe. It was more of a nuisance than anything," Baumblatt said.

"The anxiety was that people didn't know what it was," she said. "Once people figured out they were bedbugs, they were relieved."

The office brought in a pest control company to rid the office of bedbugs and performed steam cleaning, Baumblatt said.

Potter, the entomologist, said bedbugs prefer beds and stationary furniture such as couches and recliners because they don't like disruption when they feed on people. But they may be transported to offices, day-care centers or myriad other locations in personal belongings such as backpacks, briefcases and purses.

Once an office becomes infested, managers may not want to tell workers in order to avoid a panic, he said. "In the best of all worlds, the office would inform the employees that some bedbugs have been spotted and they have a company that's hopefully involved in dealing with things," he said.

However, Potter added, "nothing is easy when it comes to ."

Explore further: Scores got sick, 1 died trying to kill bedbugs

Related Stories

Scores got sick, 1 died trying to kill bedbugs

September 22, 2011
(AP) -- Worried about bedbugs? Maybe you should be more concerned about the insecticides used to get rid of them.

Research: Bedbugs can thrive despite inbreeding

December 7, 2011
Bedbugs aren't just sleeping with you. They're sleeping with each other. Researchers now say that the creepy bugs have a special genetic gift: withstanding incest.

Recommended for you

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.